This essay identifies four different modes of ethnographic engagement with Palestine since the nineteenth century: biblical, Oriental, absent, and poststructural. Focusing on the epistemic and political dynamics in which the recent admissibility of Palestine as a legitimate ethnographic subject is embedded, we highlight two conditions. One is the demystification of states and hegemonic groups that control them, and the concomitant legitimacy of groups with counterclaims. The other is the “crisis of representation” in the social sciences and the humanities. Combined with the rupture in Israel's sanctity in the West since the 1980s, these developments were conducive to Palestine's admission. We conclude by considering Palestine as a problem space that could reinvigorate the critical abilities of postcolonial language and the anthropology that it engenders.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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