The second ‘BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine’ conference July 24-26, 2020, University of Sydney, Australia Call for papers

Sydney University Staff for BDS along with a range of pro-Palestinian organisations including the Australia Palestine Advocacy network (APAN) and BDSAustralia are calling on supporters of justice in Palestine-Israel, both….

Sydney University Staff for BDS along with a range of pro-Palestinian organisations including the Australia Palestine Advocacy network (APAN) and BDSAustralia are calling on supporters of justice in Palestine-Israel, both activists and researchers, to participate in the second ‘BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine’ conference, which will be held at the University of Sydney on 24-26 July, 2020. The 2020 instalment of the conference follows the successful inaugural edition in 2017 (see here and here for a selection of the 2017 talks).

International keynote speakers include longstanding Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, Mazin Qumsiyeh from the Palestine Museum of Natural History, and David Palumbo-Liu, Professor of Comparative Literature and Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford.

In line with the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions from Palestinian civil society, including from academics at Birzeit University, and from organisations such as the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees, the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists and many others, the conference will analyse the context and politics of Palestine solidarity activism, including BDS, in Australia, the Asia-Pacific and abroad; reflect on previous BDS and other Palestine solidarity initiatives; discuss the current situation in Gaza and the West Bank; and contribute to greater academic and public understanding of campaigns for justice for Palestinians, including through boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Little in the current political context inspires confidence in the prospects of justice in Palestine-Israel. Among the many factors militating against that outcome, the escalation of US-endorsed illegal Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, Israel’s defiant declaration of the apartheid Nation-State Law, and the clear rightward shift in Israeli society and politics are among the most serious. Given the comprehensive failure of international institutions to secure progress forPalestinian people and the clear shortcomings of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority as vehicles for Palestinians’ political aspirations, civil-society initiatives like the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign represent one of the rare grounds for hope that justice in the region is attainable.

The present moment witnesses both intensifying legislative repression of Palestine-solidarity activism in many national and local contexts, and a growing support for BDS among members of scholarly associations such as the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, the African Literature Association, the American Studies Association, the Asian American Studies Association, the Critical Ethnic Studies Association, the National Women’s Studies Association and many others. In this context, it is essential that public appreciation of the nature and rationale of the boycott movement be enhanced.

We call for 20-minute papers, from both academics and activists, addressing any aspect of Palestine solidarity activism, the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and their wider political and socio-cultural contexts and ramifications. Possible themes of papers include, but are not limited to:

  • Palestine solidarity, antiracism and indigenous justice
  • Palestine and decolonization
  • Palestine and the failure of international law
  • the cultural boycott
  • transnational solidarity and BDS
  • Palestine and the media
  • the academic boycott beyond the humanities
  • Israel’s anti-BDS campaign
  • the Nation-state law
  • Israel, Palestine and the Trump administration
  • Palestine and the Australian Labor Party
  • BDS, refugees, and the right of return
  • the academic boycott of South Africa
  • critiques of BDS
  • Palestine, students and activism
  • Zionism and BDS
  • freedom of speech, academic freedom and BDS
  • Anti-Semitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
  • legal attacks on BDS
  • justice-work, activism and BDS in academia
  • Palestine and South Africa
  • the Israel lobby
  • BDS in Palestine and abroad
  • Palestine, unions and politics
  • arms, cultural and sporting boycotts
  • Palestine and the Jewish community
  • boycott politics in academic organisations

Conference supporters

The conference is supported by the Australian Palestine Advocacy Network, BDS Australia, Jews against the Occupation Sydney, the Australian Palestinian Professionals’ Association, Australians for Palestine, Women for Palestine, the Australian Friends of Palestine Association, Adelaide BDS, Independent Australian Jewish Voices, the Palestine Action Group Sydney, the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine and the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network.

Submission guidelines

Proposals are invited from activists, community members and academics alike. Academic proposals will be reviewed by members of the academic program committee. If you are an activist or a community member, please use the proposal to tell us what you want to speak about and how it relates to the theme of the conference. Proposals (of around 200 words) for 20-minute papers and for panels should be sent to [] by March 2, 2020, with acceptances to be notified by April 2. Earlier submissions are encouraged.

Members of the academic programme committee are listed here.

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