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The gendered nature of education under siege: a Palestinian feminist perspective

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Military occupation affects educational space and places, transforming them into politicized, sexed, gendered, and racialized ones. The uncontrolled political violence in conflict zones causes psychological trauma, internal displacement and economic stagnation, and intersect to shape the gendered nature of education. This article is based on data collected from young Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian Territories between 2004-2007. Its theoretical background departs from the perspective that women's education in conflict zones is simultaneously a site of empowerment, resistance, and victimization. As such, the article demonstrates that the personal is political, and highlights how education can be both a source of consciousness-raising and a powerful mobilizing force for young women while simultaneously being oppressive in nature. The results show that the covert and overt acts of political violence against Palestinians has transformed Palestinian gender relations in complex, contradictory, and diverse ways while both militarizing and violating their right to education. In addition, the article argues that the study of gender and education requires close attention to women's words and acts in order to identify revolutionary modes of resistance that are capable of promoting social justice. It concludes by arguing that the daily terror facing young women on their way to school, the systematic denial of school permits, and other actions that interfere with their right to obtain an education not only necessitates the re-conceptualization of education conceived as a neutral zone and separated from the politics of the state, but also requires a close scrutiny of the gendered nature of education under siege.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Publication date: 2008-03-01

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