The Case for Case Studies

By Wil Burns, Editor-in-Chief of Case Studies in the Environment

What is a case study, and how can case studies positively impact critical thinking and knowledge acquisition, as well as inform research in academia and training in professional practice? In this post, Case Studies in the Environment Editor-in-Chief Wil Burns explains what case studies are, and how they can provide an important bridge to understanding important environmental issues.

What is a “Case Study?”

In its most distilled form, a “case study” involves investigation of “real-life phenomenon through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions, and their relationships.” The “case” may focus upon an individual, organization, event, or project, anchored in a specific time and place. Most cases are based on real events, or a plausible construction of events, and tell a story, often involving issues or conflicts which require resolution. They also frequently include central characters and quotations and dialogue. Often the objective of a case study approach is to develop a theory regarding the nature and causes of similarities between instances of a class of events. More broadly, case studies seek to illustrate broader, overarching principles or theses. In recent years, researchers have increasingly embraced the study method in recognition of the limitations of quantitative methods to provide in-depth and holistic explanations of social problems.

Case Studies in the Classroom

Case studies can play an extremely important role in the classroom. Research surveying faculty and student learning results associated with the use of case studies demonstrate significant increases in student critical thinking skills and knowledge acquisition, as well as enhanced ability to make connections between multiple content areas and to view issues from different perspectives. Case studies can also promote active learning, which has been proven to enhance learning outcomes. Case studies can help to facilitate learning by deductive learners by helping them to reason from examples, analogies, and models, as well as from basic principles.

In the specific context of environmental studies and science courses, case studies have proven to be a valuable component of teaching by fostering critical transdisciplinary perspectives conductive to addressing environmental issues. The case study method has also been employed in an effort to foster engaged learning in environmental studies and science courses by “flipping the curriculum.”

Case Studies in the “Real World”

Case studies are also a valuable tool for environmental practitioners. They can provide guideposts for best practices, as well as lessons learned by others in any given professional sector, including in the environmental arena. The case study method has proven to be an effective tool to assist environmental professional in developing effective recommendations and policy prescriptions. Also pertinent to the environmental sector, case study research can also help to identify relevant variables to facilitate subsequent statistical research. Moreover, case studies can be employed in organizations for training purposes to foster problem-based learning and the ability to formulate solutions.

Case Studies in the Environment

Case Studies in the Environment is a new online journal published by the University of California Press. It seeks to foster the development of a substantial compendium of case studies by the environmental academic and professional communities. The journal focuses on environmental cases studies in the following categories:

It is our hope that Case Studies in the Environment will help to develop a community of scholars and practitioners that can leverage the benefits of case studies on behalf of our efforts to combat some of the most imposing environmental issues of our time. Learn more at cse.ucpress.edu, or sign up for Case Studies in the Environment news alerts.

 


A Paradigm Shift for Fathers

During Father’s Day, while some dads are woken from slumber by their kids bouncing on their beds, others are simply hoping to get a few short hours with their children.

The urban “deadbeat dad” or “absentee father” is considered a leading social problem today. They become fathers quickly (and usually unintentionally) and avoid parental responsibilities, including evading child support obligations. Stereotyped as irresponsible and immature, they are looked down upon by all walks of society.

But what we fail to recognize—and what The New York Times’ David Brooks writes about regarding why fathers leave their children, is that these fathers had every intention of being there for their children. Brooks writes, “in truth, when fathers abandon their own children, it’s not a momentary decision; it’s a long, tragic process.”

Brooks cites Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson’s research in Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Big City. Brooks says that “the so-called deadbeat dads want to succeed as fathers. Their goals and values point them in the right direction. … They need help finding the practical bridges to help them get where they want to go.”

Edin and Nelson write:

Perhaps a paradigm shift is in order. Imagine if America’s social institutions realigned so that men’s parenting efforts were treated as a resource with real potential value. If we truly believe in gender equity, then we must find a way to honor fathers’ attempts to build relationships with their children just as we do mothers’—to assign fathers rights along with their responsibilities. While some low-income fathers are violent or potentially harmful to their children, such problems are far from universal, and it is wrong to characterize a whole class of men in this way, particularly when we don’t do the same for middle-class, predominately white fathers.

Taking a bold new approach to unmarried fatherhood has risks, but it also has large potential payoffs.

Learn more about Edin and Nelson’s fieldwork that inspired Doing the Best I Can and find resources to help.


Variants and Errors in Old Editions of Island of the Blue Dolphins

by Sara L. Schwebel, editor of Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader’s Edition

This guest post is published in conjunction with the meeting of the Children’s Literature Association taking place June 22-24 in Tampa, FL and the American Library Association conference taking place June 22-27 in Chicago, IL. #ChLA17 / #ALAAC17


Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader’s Edition

While preparing Island of the Blue Dolphins: The Complete Reader’s Edition, I was shocked to learn how significantly the text of individual copies of Scott O’Dell’s Newbery-winning novel differed. Island of the Blue Dolphins is not Sister Carrie, with its complicated publication history, or Walden, famous for its textual variants. It is a twentieth-century Newbery winner published with numerous printing but just three editions: the first (1960), a thirtieth anniversary edition (1990), and a fiftieth anniversary edition (2010). Given the availability of late twentieth-century computer software, I had thought the editions would be identical.

How wrong I was.

Houghton Mifflin first sold the paperback rights to Island of the Blue Dolphins in 1971, and this opened the floodgates to variants in U.S. editions. Dell retyped the first edition, and in doing so inserted a series of variants. The first printing of the first Dell paperback, for example, introduced 6 variants in punctuation, omitted one word (the pronoun “I,” in chapter 8), and made seven printing errors, ranging from a lower case “i” that is missing its dot to a lower case “m” that is only half printed.

In some but not all reprintings of this Dell paperback, errors were corrected. For example, the Laurel-Leaf Historical Fiction imprint published in 1978 corrects two missing periods and a missing comma, as well as the missing pronoun “I;” however, it inserts a different error (“though” for “thought,” in chapter 8). The 1987 Yearling paperback is identical to the 1971 Dell first printing with one exception: it corrects a missing open quotation mark in chapter 8. But bafflingly, the 1999 Newbery-Yearling imprint reverts to the original 1971 Dell paperback: no corrections are made at all. These variants, while slightly annoying, are largely insignificant. And this is where things stood until 1990.

Houghton Mifflin celebrated Island of the Blue Dolphins’ thirtieth birthday by issuing a gift edition of the book illustrated by Ted Lewin. This cloth edition made a series of welcome corrections to Houghton Mifflin’s first edition; most of these corrects are inconsequential (commas, subjunctive verbs, etc.), but three are interesting and substantive.

Continue reading “Variants and Errors in Old Editions of Island of the Blue Dolphins


Remembering Those at Pulse in Orlando: One Year Later

Today, we remember the 49 people who lost their lives at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, FL. It is the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter; the deadliest terrorist attack since September 11, 2011; and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history.

Survivors and family members pay tribute to those in the community who were lost yet always remembered.

This day brings to light the discrimination and homophobia that those in the LGBTQ community experience, and how gun violence—and lack of gun sense—contribute to such tragedies.

Homophobia, sadly, begins early on. C.J. Pascoe, author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, notes in her Guest Viewpoint for The Register-Guard that homophobia is linked to our definition of  masculinity. Pascoe says that during her research, “[b]oys told me that homophobic epithets were directed at boys for exhibiting any sort of behavior defined as nonmasculine: being stupid, incompetent, dancing, caring too much about clothing, being too emotional or expressing interest (sexual or platonic) in other guys.”

And Pascoe notes in Dude, You’re a Fag that the “fag” insult “literally reduced a boy to nothing, “To call someone gay or fag is like the lowest thing you can call someone. Because that’s like saying that you’re nothing.”

Pascoe shares the story of Ricky, who “embodied the fag because of his homosexuality and his less normative gender identification and self-presentation.”

Even though dancing was the most important thing in his life, Ricky told me he didn’t attend school dances because he didn’t like to “watch my back” the whole time. Meanings of sexuality and masculinity were deeply embedded in dancing and high school dances. Several boys at the school told me that they wouldn’t even attend a dance if they knew Ricky was going to be there. In auto shop, Brad,a white sophomore, said, “I heard Ricky is going in a skirt. It’s a hella short one!” Chad responded, “I wouldn’t even go if he’s there.” Topping Chad’s response, Brad claimed, “I’d probably beat him up outside!” K.J. agreed: “He’d probably get jumped by a bunch of kids who don’t like him.” Chad said, “If I were a gay guy I wouldn’t go around telling everyone.” 

Pascoe later shares practical recommendations, focusing on schools to try and curtain homophobia in early settings. From ways administrators and teachers can take proactive steps to know about and enforce anti-discriminatory laws, modify the school’s curriculum and social organizations to be less homophobic, and reorganize highly gendered school rituals, Pascoe brings to the forth front ways we can help gay youth feel more included and be less preyed upon.

As both young Ricky and Pulse Night Club have shown us, homophobia is still a concern of life and death for many, even now. Despite the sadness that many feel today, we end on a note of hope, with the simple message that today is a day of love and kindness. #OrlandoUnitedDay

 


Tools of the Trade: Resources for Psychology Research

As part of our “Tools of the Trade” blog series this summer, we’re here to help you further your own research by providing the resources you need to focus on your scholarship, write—or rewrite—your work, and prepare your work for publication.

Regardless of the discipline, the quality of one’s research is only as sound as the manner in which it was conducted. That’s why our Open Access journal, Collabra: Psychology, has an entire section dedicated to the study of Methodology and Research Practice in Psychology. For those conducting research this summer—and especially those in psychological fields—we’ve rounded up the following articles to help inform your own methodological approaches, data transparency, and replicability practices.

Making Your Research Transparent (Unlike a Car Salesperson!)

Quality Uncertainty Erodes Trust in Science by Simine Vazire

When consumers of science (readers and reviewers) lack relevant details about the study design, data, and analyses, they cannot adequately evaluate the strength of a scientific study. A car whose carburetor is duct-taped to the rest of the car might work perfectly fine, but the buyer has a right to know about the duct-taping. Without high levels of transparency in scientific publications, consumers of scientific manuscripts are in a similar position as buyers of used cars – they cannot reliably tell the difference between lemons and high quality findings. The solution is to increase transparency and give consumers of scientific research the information they need to accurately evaluate research. Transparency also encourages researchers to be more careful in how they conduct their studies and write up their results.

A New Standard for Replicating Your Research

A New Replication Norm for Psychology by Etienne P LeBel

In recent years, there has been a growing concern regarding the replicability of findings in psychology, including a mounting number of prominent findings that have failed to replicate via high-powered independent replication attempts. In the face of this replicability “crisis of confidence”, several initiatives have been implemented to increase the reliability of empirical findings. In the current article, LeBel proposes a new replication norm that aims to further boost the dependability of findings in psychology. Paralleling the extant social norm that researchers should peer review about three times as many articles that they themselves publish per year, the new replication norm states that researchers should aim to independently replicate important findings in their own research areas in proportion to the number of original studies they themselves publish per year (e.g., a 4:1 original-to-replication studies ratio).

Giving Due Attention to the Pitfalls of False Negatives

Too Good to be False: Nonsignificant Results Revisited by Chris H. J. Hartgerink, et al

The concern for false positives has overshadowed the concern for false negatives in the recent debates in psychology. This might be unwarranted, since reported statistically nonsignificant findings may just be “too good to be false.” This article examines evidence for false negatives in nonsignificant results in three different ways, arguing that the failure to address false negatives can lead to a waste of research resources and stifle the scientific discovery process.


New Clues in the Search for the Blaschka Animals

By Drew Harvell, author of A Sea of Glass: Searching for the Blaschkas’ Fragile Legacy in an Ocean at Risk

This guest post is published in observance of World Oceans Day, June 8th, a global day of celebration and collaboration to honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans.


From the entrance of the historic Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, one can see across the Bay of Naples to the island of Capri. All that separates me from this timeless view and entry into the Stazione is an ancient gate crafted in metal of crabs and octopus.

Inside the archives, I examine Leopold Blaschka’s letter, in exacting cursive, of 4 February 1877. He specifies a list of 41 preserved marine animals to be sent to help him construct in glass scientifically accurate replicas of marine invertebrates. I reflect on this new evidence of his careful planning. He researched and then obtained names of the exact preserved animals he needed to perfect his glass masterpieces. It took two months from his penning of the letter until these animals reached his door. I may never know how he formed his list, but I can celebrate the outcome. Some of those 41 animals sent at his request, arenow spun in glass and housed in the collection I curate at Cornell University.

I am visiting the Stazione Zoologica to research these letters, explore the fate of our Blaschka matches, and talk about my recent book, A Sea of Glass. The book chronicles my search for the living animals and how they are faring in a changing ocean. On the list of animals sent at Leopold’s request is the curly tentacle octopus (Eledone moschata), one of our most prized models. In glass, it is an attentive octopus crouched in a comfortable octopus pose, tentacles coiled at the ready, as if waiting for a crab to pass. Also on the list is the crinoid (Comatula mediterranea), a delicate relative of starfish and still found deep in the waters of Naples Bay and studied even now by researchers at Anton Dohrn. Near the end of Blaschka’s list is the white-spotted octopus (Callistoctopus macropus), a close cousin and look-alike to the bright-spotted ornate octopus (Callistoctopus ornatus), I describe in A Sea of Glass from my night dive in Hawaii. Shown here are the swirling red tentacles portrayed in the watercolor drawn by Leopold before tackling the glass model.

With these lists of Blaschka subjects in hand, scientists at Stazione Zoologica will help in my quest to check up on the health of the Blaschka animals by looking over the coming year to see which can still be found alive in the Bay of Naples.

The curly tentacle octopus (Eledone moschata) in glass. Claire Smith, photo.
The Mediterranean crinoid (Antedon mediterranea) in glass. Corning Museum of Glass, photo.
The white-spotted otopus (Callistoctopus macropus), water color by Leopold Blaschka. Courtesy of Rakow Library, Corning Museum of Glass.

Drew Harvell is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University and Curator of the Blaschka Marine Invertebrate Collection. Her research on the sustainability of marine ecosystems has taken her from the reefs of Mexico, Indonesia, and Hawaii to the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. She is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, a winner of the Society of American Naturalist Jasper Loftus-Hills Award, and a lead author of the oceans chapter in the recent U.S. Climate Change Assessment. She has published over 120 articles in journals such as ScienceNature, and Ecology and is coeditor of The Ecology and Evolution of Inducible Defenses.


Tools of the Trade: Writing for Your Own Research

As a professor, you’ve spent this entire academic year supporting your students, preparing for lectures, and creating exams, all while trying to squeak out time to further your own research and writing.

This summer, carve out time to focus on your own work and research and use the right writing tools to help. Below are recommended titles that can help you focus on your scholarship, write—or rewrite—your work, and ensure your work is ready to be sent to publishers.

Also, keep an eye out for upcoming “Tools of the Trade” blog posts that can help you in your specific field of scholarship.

 

A Crash Course in Scholarly Writing—and Scholarly Skills

Grad School Essentials: A Crash Course in Scholarly Skills by Zachary Shore 

With humorous, lively prose, Shore teaches you to master the five most crucial skills you need to succeed: how to read, write, speak, act, and research at a higher level. Great for the novice scholar as well as for experienced one who may want a refresher, Shore shares quick writing tips on how to get to the point, structuring for clarity, and utilizing style tactics. He also provides valuable insight on how to make research more focused, efficient, and meaningful.

 

Revising, Rewriting, and Getting Published

Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors, Updated Edition edited by Beth Luey 

This lively guide offers hard-to-find practical advice on successfully turning a dissertation into a book or journal articles that will appeal to publishers and readers. It will help prospective authors master writing and revision skills, better understand the publishing process, and increase their chances of getting their work into print. Luey has you focus on what your writing for publication is really about, bringing your own voice, trimming and revising, and also discusses disciplinary variations.

Remembering the Basics

The Copyeditor’s Handbook:A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, With Exercises and Answer Keys by Amy Einsohn

Though originally created for newcomers to publishing, and for experienced editors who want to fine-tune their skills or broaden their understanding of the craft, this perennial bestselling book has been used as a practical manual for all writers to hone their grammar, copyediting, writing, and rewriting skills.

 


What’s Left of Pride?

By Emily K. Hobson, author of Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left

Commemorations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer resistance have not always held up the banner of “Pride.” Before the early 1990s, anniversaries of the Stonewall Riots were typically marked as rallies for “liberation” or as “Lesbian and Gay FreedomDay.” These earlier events were both celebrations and acts of protest — “marches” rather than “parades,” with advertisements nowhere to be seen.

When gay liberation emerged in the late 1960s, it sought to redefine sexuality through revolution, and vice versa. Gay liberationists and lesbian feminists claimed common cause with the anti-war movement and Black Power, and they insisted that straight radicals recognize sexual freedom as central to a just society. Across the 1970s and 1980s, a vibrant gay and lesbian left forged anti-capitalist, anti-militarist, and anti-imperialist sexual politics, demanding self-determination and organizing solidarity. Gay and lesbian leftists defended the radical underground, mobilized against the New Right, advanced anti-racism in queer communities, and helped build the Central America movement, among many other causes.

The gay and lesbian left holds strong echoes in current queer radicalism. Yet this politics met a downturn in the early 1990s, when many longtime activists died of AIDS and neoliberal agendas cohered. The language of “Pride” ascended, reflecting broader shifts in LGBTQ politics away from radical transformation and towards inclusion in the existing economy and state.

“Pride” aligned with these shifts because it expresses satisfaction with the present, rather than demands for change. Its closest analogues are patriotism and family — pride in one’s country, pride in one’s children. Like those analogues, LGBTQ “Pride” too often makes sameness and respectability the conditions for acceptance. It risks sending the message: be proud of who you are, as long as you make us proud. The language of Pride helps obscure the complexity of LGBTQ history by privileging heroism over critique. It celebrates gay military veterans but ignores queer opposition to militarism; reclaims figures such as Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson but brushes aside opposition to the presence of police. Small wonder that some queer radicals today mobilize Gay Shame, a network that calls out corporate sponsorship of Pride events and that seeks to prevent gentrification from hiding behind “inclusive values.”

We need joy, pleasure, and humor; we need rage, solidarity, and resistance. Do we need pride? The history of the gay and lesbian left calls on us to reconsider the sentiments we attach to our queer pasts and futures as well as our present. What happens after liberation? How will we live when we get free? This June, let’s use queer radical history to reimagine a future in which we don’t have to settle for less.


Emily K. Hobson is the author of Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left. She serves as Assistant Professor of History and of Gender, Race, and Identity at the University of Nevada, Reno.

 


On the Anniversary of the Six-Day War, Recommended Reading for Understanding the Occupation

Fifty years ago this week, the Six-Day War transformed the Middle East. Fought from June 5-10 in 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, the conflict lasted just six days, yet its impact endures today. For Palestinians, this year marks fifty years of military occupation. During the war, Israeli forces captured east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories — the West Bank and Gaza — as well as the Golan Heights and Sinai. In observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, we’ve selected a list of recommended titles for understanding the nature of the occupation, the reasons for its longevity, and its impact on Israeli and Palestinian lives, with the following deeply researched titles.


A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict by Gershon Shafir

“An indispensable guide for anyone who wants to understand the occupation that has blighted Israeli and Palestinian lives for fifty years.”Peter Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism

In these timely and provocative essays, Gershon Shafir asks three questions—What is the occupation, why has it lasted so long, and how has it transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? His cogent answers illuminate how we got here, what here is, and where we are likely to go. Shafir expertly demonstrates that at its fiftieth year, the occupation is riven with paradoxes, legal inconsistencies, and conflicting interests that weaken the occupiers’ hold and leave the occupation itself vulnerable to challenge.

This excerpt from the book, just published in Mondoweiss, asks the question: Why has the Occupation lasted this long?

Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom by Norman G. Finkelstein | available January 2018

“An exceptional, singular work that will stand as a vital contribution to the literature on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while also securing an essential place in the fields of international and human rights law.”—Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

Norman G. Finkelstein presents a meticulously researched and devastating inquest into Israel’s actions of the last decade, arguing that although Israel justified its violent assaults in the name of self-defense, in fact these actions were cynical exercises of brutal power against an essentially defenseless civilian population. Based on hundreds of human rights reports, Gaza scrutinizes multifarious violations of international law Israel committed both during its operations and in the course of its decade-long siege of Gaza.

This week in Mondoweiss, Finkelstein discussed the history of the Six-Day War, its impact on U.S. Jewish life, and its mythology, saying, “It’s arguable that Israel became a different place after ’67. . .  If not a qualitative, then a quantitative transformation occurred in ’67.  Still, it’s perhaps not too late for Israel to repair some of the damage done to the indigenous population, and itself. Look at Germany and Japan.”

Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror by Gary Fields| available September 2017

“An original and eye-opening argument which places the dispossession of Palestinians by Israel within the age-old system of land enclosure—a broader and deeper logic typifying the political geography of modernity.”—Oren Yiftachel, Professor of Geography, Ben-Gurion University 

Enclosure marshals bold new and persuasive arguments about the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians. Revealing the Israel-Palestine landscape primarily as one of enclosure, geographer Gary Fields sheds fresh light on Israel’s actions. He places those actions in historical context in a broad analysis of power and landscapes across the modern world. Examining the process of land-grabbing in early modern England, colonial North America, and contemporary Palestine, Enclosure shows how patterns of exclusion and privatization have emerged across time and geography.

Israel’s Occupation by Neve Gordon

“A powerful and convincing structural framework for explaining Israel’s changing methods of rule in the Palestinian territories from 1967 and until today. This book will change the debate on Israel and its occupation.”Yinon Cohen, Columbia University

This first complete history of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip allows us to see beyond the smoke screen of politics in order to make sense of the dramatic changes that have developed on the ground over the past forty years. Looking at a wide range of topics, from control of water and electricity to health care and education as well as surveillance and torture, Neve Gordon’s panoramic account reveals a fundamental shift from a politics of life—when, for instance, Israel helped Palestinians plant more than six-hundred thousand trees in Gaza and provided farmers with improved varieties of seeds—to a macabre politics characterized by an increasing number of deaths.

Yesterday in The Nation, Gordon wrote about this shift from “a politics of life to a politics of death” which he covers in the book. He says: “To really understand Israel’s colonial project, it is crucial to examine the mechanisms of control.”

One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine as Parallel States edited by Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg

“A coterie of bold, open-minded international academics offers a fresh paradigm for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence. . . . A visionary approach so daring that it could actually work.”Kirkus

One Land, Two States imagines a new vision for Israel and Palestine in a situation where the peace process has failed to deliver an end of conflict. “If the land cannot be shared by geographical division, and if a one-state solution remains unacceptable,” the book asks, “can the land be shared in some other way?”

Leading Palestinian and Israeli experts along with international diplomats and scholars answer this timely question by examining a scenario with two parallel state structures, both covering the whole territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, allowing for shared rather than competing claims of sovereignty.


Sustaining Conflict: Apathy and Domination in Israel-Palestine 
by Katherine Natanel

“In chapter after chapter, Natanel records the relentlessness of a kind of detachment that allows for Israelis to live a ‘normal’ life while only miles away from them a brutal apparatus of occupation attempts to pacify Palestinians.”Laleh Khalili, Professor of Middle East Politics, University of London

Sustaining Conflict examines how the status quo is maintained in Israel-Palestine, even by the activities of Jewish Israelis who are working against the occupation of Palestinian territories. The book shows how hierarchies and fault lines in Israeli politics lead to fragmentation, and how even oppositional power becomes routine over time. Most importantly, the book exposes how the occupation is sustained through a carefully crafted system that allows sympathetic Israelis to “knowingly not know,” further disconnecting them from the plight of Palestinians.

Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel edited by Mark LeVine and Gershon Shafir

“This wonderful volume illuminates the human dimensions of the complex and often painful history of modern Palestine/Israel by exploring how [individual] experiences have been profoundly shaped by the recurrent struggles over this land.”Zachary Lockman, New York University.

With contributions from a leading cast of scholars across disciplines, the stories here are drawn from a variety of sources, from stories passed down through generations to family archives, interviews, and published memoirs. This wide-ranging and accessible volume of personal narratives brings a human dimension to a conflict-ridden history, emphasizing human agency, introducing marginal voices alongside more well-known ones, defying “typical” definitions of Israelis and Palestinians, and, ultimately, redefining how we understand both “struggle” and “survival” in a troubled region.


The Occupation’s Universe of Alternative Facts

By Gershon Shafir, author of A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict

This guest post is published in observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War, fought from June 5-10, 1967 by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. During this time, Israeli forces captured east Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories — the West Bank and Gaza — as well as the Golan Heights and Sinai. For Palestinians, this year marks fifty years of military occupation.

In A Half Century of Occupation, Gershon Shafir asks three questions—What is the occupation, why has it lasted so long, and how has it transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? His cogent answers illuminate how we got here, what here is, and where we are likely to go. 


In the last essay of this book’s three essays, I examine the ways in which a half century of occupation has transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this short blog post I can only ask one big question: Is Israeli colonization irreversible? Has the implan­tation of Israeli settlers closed off the possibility of the territorial partition of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, so that, as many now believe, the crea­tion of one state for both Israelis and Palestinians has become the only non­violent alternative to continued conflict?

Mine is not a philosophical discussion of the merits and demerits of these political outcomes, but rather a much more modestly conceived feasibility study from the perspective of the social sciences. (In the rest of the essay I also evaluate the feasibility of shared state in either its binational or civic, that is, one-person-one vote, versions.)

When the Likud government put forth the Drobless Plan in 1981, it projected that by 2010, 1.3 million Jews would live alongside 1.8 million Arabs in the West Bank. In fact, in mid-2016 (according to the Civilian Administration), among the close to three million West Bank Palestinians 405,158 Jewish settlers resided in 126 settlements, making up 13.8 percent of the region’s population. Palestinians, in short, still maintain a crushing demographic dominance.

Continue reading “The Occupation’s Universe of Alternative Facts”