Are you interested in the study of nationalism and inequality and the role of the natural environment in narratives and practices around nationalist politics? Would you like to work on roles of trees in Israel/Palestine through an anthropological approach?
The Department of Anthropology
at the University of Amsterdam is looking for a postdoctoral researcher who will work within the research project Political Trees: Arboreal Nationalism in Israel-Palestine
initiated and led by dr. Erella Grassiani.
This study looks at trees as political tools in the world today. Trees are "the lungs of the world" and need urgent protection in view of widespread overexploitation for food, building material and many other human needs. Their cultural and spiritual meanings are manifold, and the use and protection of trees is never a simple process. This project analyses how humans turn trees into political tools and harness ecological concerns to political goals. One form of tree-based politics is planting or uprooting trees to facilitate-practically and symbolically-the occupation and settling of land. Another is resistance to deforestation, which affects indigenous people. I call such practices arboreal nationalism.
Understanding arboreal nationalism requires asking:
- How do states, civil society organizations and marginalized groups mobilize the symbolic, material, and environmental significance of trees?
- How is nationalism "greenwashed"?
- Which colonial legacies are evident in current national projects involving trees?
- And how might we understand the agency of trees in these processes?
This project will contribute to a new understanding of the role of trees in nationalist endeavours. It will uncover the entanglement of nationalist politics and the natural environment. The project will compare the political drivers and consequences of arboreal nationalism from the perspective of local actors in Israel-Palestine. Studying this case closely will allow us to further theorize arboreal nationalism and establish urgently needed new links between the anthropology of the state, environmental studies and histories of nationalism.What will you do
The postdoctoral researcher we are looking for will work on the sub-project 'Political Trees in Palestine' and will complement work already done by the principal researcher. Within this project the prospective researcher will study the multiple ways in which trees 'matter' to Palestinians living in the West-Bank or within the Green Line, whether this is in terms of modes of belonging, manners of protection, or resistance. The researcher will explore the way trees are at the heart of political acts, such as resistance of the military occupation and/or other forms of land grabbing.