• PREOCCUPIED: The role of peacebuilding in formal education in the West Bank

      Evans, Martin; Wright, Anne-Marie; Arya-Manesh, Emma (University of Chester, 2021-01)
      This thesis is an ethnographic study of six teacher educators working in university settings in the West Bank, an Occupied Palestinian Territory. It explores these teacher educators’ perceptions, values, and attitudes about the role of peacebuilding in Formal Education (FE). It focuses particularly on the teacher educators’ practice, which is to train student teachers to be certified as competent to work in schools either managed or run by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE). The research shows that there are tensions surrounding the conceptualisation of the meaning of teacher competency among contributors to teacher education. The tension lies most noticeably between schools and universities. This thesis thus captures the (dis)continuities of an FE system caught between the conditions of colonial and military occupation and performative measures and strategies enforced by the MoEHE. These problems are compounded by the complex associations of FE with Palestinian liberation. From the expressions the teacher educators used to convey their ideas, metaphors provide a powerful analytical device. The thesis employs a narrative analysis to foreground these metaphors as more than a rhetorical device. The metaphors provide reflexive insight into the (extra)ordinary lives of the teacher educators and the specificities of the cultural and political context from which their understandings of peacebuilding arise. The data shows that the teacher educators have individual and shared tensions about the underlying principles of peace, which consequently inform the roles of peacebuilding in FE from complex and contradictory positions. These metaphors expose an FE system that is a victim and a perpetrator both of forms of violence, and of the complex conditions under which peacebuilding either thrives or is diminished. The data also shows that peacebuilding in FE is most contentious where there is a disconnect with social justice and a connection with tatbi’a (normalisation) and counterinsurgency. In its final analysis, this thesis draws on the perspectives of Johan Galtung, Paulo Freire and Pierre Bourdieu to disturb deep-rooted thinking about peacebuilding in the West Bank. As a consequence of exploring the data through these theoretical lenses, the thesis exposes deep fractures in thinking and beliefs which are perpetuated by deeply entrenched, competing discourses that cannot be easily resolved. This thesis encourages academics and policy makers in the fields of critical peace education and education in conflict to consider generative peacebuilding frameworks that focus on conflicts within Palestinian society as well as those arising from the Occupation, and see them as mutually reinforcing rather than treating them purely as separate issues.