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Elce, Bethany (2023) The accompanier and the accompanied in Occupied Palestine: human rights activism, and the self who intervenes. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This interdisciplinary study uses the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) as a case study through which to explore and critique accompaniment as a form of nonviolent, transnational, civil society intervention in the occupied Palestinian territories. By conducting a postcolonial feminist analysis of accompaniment this thesis makes a significant contribution to scholarship on protective accompaniment and unarmed civilian peacekeeping. Focusing on the accompanier-subject, it unsettles assumptions about the nature of the self who intervenes, and challenges liberal accounts of what accompaniment seeks to be and to do. It explores the colonial continuities inherent in accompaniment by locating accompaniment praxis in the context of the longer history of British imperialism and the Christian ‘civilising mission’ and to do this archival research on a 1930’s British Quaker ‘Palestine Watching’ organisation was conducted and incorporated into the study of EAPPI. Secondly and relatedly, this thesis analyses the impact of liberal ideological framings on accompaniment praxis as it operates in occupied Palestine. It concludes that there are several ways in which accompaniment organisations like EAPPI constitute a colonial, paternalistic form of intervention which sometimes constitutes a withdrawal of support for Palestinians. This is demonstrated through EAPPI’s adoption of a ‘balanced’ approach to ‘both sides of the conflict’, its failure to understand and take responsibility for its positioning in the legacies of British imperial histories in the region, and its reliance on a paternalistic, masculinised practice of protection. This thesis also makes a more structural argument of more general application in relation to accompaniment. It concludes that, in addition to examining the impact of colonial logics and liberal ideologies on praxis, the impact of the particular political context in which accompaniment is conducted must be considered. Ultimately, therefore, in occupied Palestine, it is the intersection of liberal discourses, and the settler-colonial context in which and against which accompaniment organisations work, that together limits the potential for a less colonial, less paternalistic form of accompaniment-intervention.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Hagar Kotef and Ruba Salih
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2023 11:33
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council

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