Tracing Settler Colonialism: A Genealogy of a Paradigm in the Sociology of Knowledge Production in Israel

Areej Sabbagh-Khoury*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Knowledge is inextricably bound to power in the context of settler colonialism where apprehension of the Other is a tool of domination. Tracing the development of the “settler colonial” paradigm, this article deconstructs Zionist and Israeli dispossession of Palestinian land and sovereignty, applying the sociology of knowledge production to the study of the Israeli-Palestinian case. The settler colonial paradigm, linked to Israeli critical sociology, post-Zionism, and postcolonialism, reemerged following changes in the political landscape from the mid-1990s that reframed the history of the Nakba as enduring, challenged the Jewish definition of the state, and legitimated Palestinians as agents of history. Palestinian scholars in Israel lead the paradigm’s reformulation. This article offers a phenomenology of Palestinian positionality, a critical potential for decolonizing the settler colonial structure and exclusive Jewish sovereignty, to consolidate a field of study that shapes not only research into the Israeli-Palestinian case but approaches to decolonization and liberation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)44-83
Number of pages40
JournalPolitics and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I would like to thank Brinkely Messick, Gadi Algazi, and J. Kēhaulani Kauanui for their extensive comments and Joel Beinin, Jose Itzigsohn, Lisa Lowe, and Joseph Weinger for reading earlier drafts and offering their generous comments. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the editorial board of Politics & Society, especially Gay Seidman and Nitsan Chorev, for their valuable comments. The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Israel/Palestine
  • Palestinians in Israel
  • decolonization
  • indigenous
  • settler colonialism
  • sociology of knowledge


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