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Elce, Bethany (2024) 'The Balfour Conversations: British human rights activists and the call to reckon with implication.' Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 26 (2). pp. 250-267.

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As the Great Power which initially authorized the Zionist settler-colonial project in historic Palestine, Britain has played a decisive role in the one hundred-year war against Palestinians. This essay analyses moments of encounter between Palestinians and British human rights activists, which is to say between those who relegate British imperial history to a definitive past and those who continue to live with the resilient structures of the British imperial past and the ongoing settler-colonial present. Paying attention to these moments of encounter is shown to offer a way of understanding Palestinian experiences of the past as an “ever-living present”. Furthermore, in what I call these “Balfour conversations”, when British subjects were being asked to apologize for Britain’s historic actions, I suggest that something akin to the Althusserian “hail” is at work. Through its attempt to understand the processes by which interpellation functions in this context, this essay explores how implication is frequently unacknowledged or denied through reactions of defensiveness, shock, and anger – responses which are also shown to be illustrative of collective “imperial dispositions”. Throughout the essay, I unpick how it is that British activists are structurally implicated, and something of what lies beneath these imperial dispositions, in order that different ways of acting within transnational solidarity relationships might be imagined possible.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Balfour Declaration, British responsibility, human rights activism, implication, interpellation, Palestine
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
ISSN: 1369801X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2023 11:00
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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