Drawing on longitudinal ethnographic work with Palestinian American youth, Professor Abu El-Haj explores the creative, flexible practices of transnational “citizenship” that develop from conditions of migration, mobility, and ambiguity. This portrait of flexibility, creativity, and change challenges public discourses that stubbornly cling to ideas of transnational affiliations as dangerous to democracy. Professor Abu El-Haj argues, instead, that youth develop a politics of justice and inclusion to fight inequality and oppression both within and across the artificial borders of nation-states.
Thea Renda Abu El-Haj, associate professor in Education at Barnard College, Columbia University, is an anthropologist of education. Her research explores questions about belonging, rights, citizenship, and education raised by globalization, transnational migration, and conflict. She is currently working on two projects. She is conducting a collaborative ethnographic study of public kindergartens in Beirut, Lebanon, that focuses on questions of conflict and refugee policy. With the support of a Spencer Foundation grant, she is principal investigator of a US national interview study exploring the civic identities and civic practices of youth from Muslim immigrant communities. Her second book, Unsettled Belonging: Educating Palestinian American Youth after 9/11 (University of Chicago Press, 2015), won the 2016 American Educational Studies Association Critics Choice Award.