Writing/Walking Palestine: Raja Shehadeh charts his city, Ramallah, and Penny Johnson explores our common lives and histories with animals, through a reading from their respective new books "Going Home, A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation" and "Companions in Conflict: Animals in Occupied Palestine"
Followed by a conversation with Professor Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development, Columbia University.
Roaming the streets of Ramallah on the fiftieth year of the Israeli occupation, Raja Shehadeh records the changing face of the city he calls home. He visits and remembers the places, people and events in his life, and tells their stories and what has happened to them. In his latest book, Going Home, A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation, Shehadeh grapples with ageing and the failures of the resistance, and notes the ways that the past still invades the present.
Through her book, Companions in Conflict, Penny Johnson investigates the deeply intertwined lives of the region’s human and animal populations: from camel beauty contests; to a herd of “illegal” Palestinian cows hunted down by Israeli soldiers; from a hyena in a wolf pack that becomes a symbol of Middle East peace; to the tragic story of the now-taxidermied inhabitants of the West Bank’s only zoo–who were frightened to death by Israeli explosive devices. Penny's writing reveals what these and many other animals' fates tell us about the current state of Israel and Palestine. Looking forward, she introduces a new generation of environmental activists who represent the region's best hope for conversation, collaboration, and justice for all creatures.
Raja Shehadeh is a writer and a lawyer who founded the pioneering Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. Shehadeh is the author of several books on international law, human rights, and the Middle East including Occupier's Law: Israel and the West Bank and From Occupation To Interim Accords: Israel and the Palestinian Territories. His literary works include: Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine; Occupation Diaries; A Rift in Time: Travels with My Ottoman Uncle; Language of War,Language of Peace; Where the Line is Drawn: Crossing Boundaries in Occupied Palestine and Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape, which won the 2008 Orwell Prize. His latest book is Going Home, A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation. He has written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, Granta, and other publications. He lives in Ramallah, Palestine.
Penny Johnson is an associate editor of the Jerusalem Quarterly (Institute of Palestine Studies). She began working at Birzeit University in 1982 for the University’s human rights committee and was a founding member of the University’s Institute of Women’s Studies, writing on Palestinian women, family and social relations in Palestinian society. With Raja Shehadeh, she edited and contributed to Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home, which won the 2013 Palestine Book Award and Shifting Sands: The Unraveling of the Old Order in the Middle East, which was launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where she recently appeared to discuss Companions in Conflict.