• Leaving everything behind: understanding the experiences of Palestinian academics and their families in the UK

      Atherton, Frances; Moran, Paul; Owens, Allan; Elwaheidi, Muayyad T. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2018-09)
      This thesis presents a critical study of the experience of Palestinian academics living and studying abroad. Two key, interrelated research questions guide the study. First, how does a Palestinian academic living and studying abroad experience displacement from origin? And second, how can these experiences be written about and communicated? The thesis constructs an experimental proposition by refusing to make distinctions between data, epistemological content and myself as the researcher. Situated at a juncture between theory and story, I draw from my own direct experience of dislocation and displacement, using a narrative mode of storytelling as a mode of inquiry which is then intersected by critical readings of supporting theory. The discourse which emerges is a heterodox mixture of narrative and theory which challenges the conventional separation between researcher, data and epistemological content. This experience is mainly engaged with the theory of the State of Exception by Giorgio Agamben. The study tries to question to what extent Agamben regarding the State of Exception can be applied to the situation in Gaza Strip and the lives of those academics and their families. It deals with this by analysing the day-to-day experiences of Palestinian people, especially Palestinian academics and their families and in this study a Palestinian educator. The work of Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze and others emerges within this study as a recurrent conversation on the subjects of the State of Exception, bare life, symbolic violence, nomadism, and the rhizome. Just as the narrative voice of the thesis “reterritorializes” the space of academic discourse, so the text shifts between thick descriptions of the spatial conditions of Palestine as experienced by myself and other Palestinian academics and educators and broader critical reflections on the nature of space and subjectivity. Additionally, this textual discourse is joined by a curatorial discourse which frames the events discussed with visual images and objects, the material and visual signs and traces which refract the experience of Palestinian academics living and studying abroad. Questioning conventional limits, the overall contribution of this thesis is to push and experiment with new methodologies of arts-based research which will enable my own subjectivity to present in the data in order for my experiences to be documented.