In this article originally for ‘the Commune’, Dr. Aitemad Muhanna, former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) tracks the decline of the leftist movement in Palestinian society and how the rise of support for Hamas affected notions of gender in the Palestinian camps.
From her days in the PFLP she seems to have moved on into the world of academia, research and the like. She is a research fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre.
Dr Muhanna-Matar's PhD thesis in 2010 examined the effects of the Palestinian Second Intifada on women’s agency and contributed to challenging mainstream liberal conceptions of women’s empowerment. It was published in a book ‘Agency and Gender in Gaza: Masculinity, Femininity and Family during the Second Intifada, by Ashgate in October 2013. Of that book Ashgate writes:
Drawing on rich interview material and adopting a life history approach, this book examines the agency of women living in insecure and uncertain conflict situations. It explores the effects of the Israeli policy of closure against Gaza and the resulting humanitarian crisis in relation to gender relations and gender subjectivity.
With attention to the changing roles of men in the household and community as a result of the loss of male employment, the author explores the extension of poor women’s mobility, particularly that of young wives with dependent children, for whom the meaning of agency has shifted from being providers in the domestic sphere to becoming publicly dependent on humanitarian aid. Without conflating women’s agency with resistance to patriarchy, Agency and Gender in Gaza extends the concept of agency to include its subjective and intersubjective elements, shedding light on the recent distortion of the traditional gender order and the reasons for which women resist the masculine power that they have acquired as a result.
In the piece presented below, the author presents an interesting perspective. Her discussion of the failures of the left, especially the Marxist left within the Palestinian movement and the response, and growth of Hamas cannot be overlooked. As a leftist critic of Hamas, someone long involved in the fight against patriarchy and for the liberation of women, as a Marxist, this analysis has to sting. What stings the most is how familiar it sounds. This analysis, whether you like it or not, makes a whole lot of sense. It should give you something to think about.
The following is from the Commune from April 2010 and is presented here for Scission's Theoretical Mondays.