Between localised practices and global imaginaries of boycott and peace: decolonial reflections on BDS in Palestine
Since its formal inception in 2005, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) has been a central tactic of the global struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its normalisation. It has also been at the forefront of numerous controversies around the world, especially with its recent nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. After more than 10 years, the BDS has gained recent support from the PLO Central Council, while at the same time becoming a 'strategic threat' for Israel, which has introduced new legislation to ban its support. Some argue that the boycott has in fact become central to Palestinian politics. This increasingly vocal role in stirring the debate raises the question of what role the BDS is playing as a driver of change within local, Palestinian politics and how this affects the internationally-led project of 'conflict resolution' and democratisation. Within the context of the post-Oslo era of political and social division, what is the role of the boycott movement in re-defining the terms of the 'conflict' and as part of the wider resistance on the ground? By looking at the debates arising around the academic and cultural boycott within the Palestinian community, this thesis will analyse how the BDS movement is helping to re-frame both the global and local discourse around conflict and peace from a grassroots and indigenous perspective, while shaping its own identity as a rights-based movement for justice. Conceptualisations of BDS as both a “critique” and “dialogue”, as a transgression of social, political and discursive boundaries, and as a tool to reclaim collective identity will frame the discussion of BDS to understand it as part of the “Palestine analytic”: not as an exception but as the result of a global history of colonialism and relative anti-colonial struggle.