14 May 2024

Rebecca Ruth Gould, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Poetics and Global Politics at SOAS and author of most recently Erasing Palestine: Free Speech and Palestinian Freedom (Verso, 2023), will be speaking at SOAS on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. on “What does free speech have to do with Palestine Liberation?” It’s free but to attend you must register here.

The systematic erasure of Palestine that has taken place over the course of the long 20th and 21st centuries has increasingly involved the suppression of pro-Palestine activism. In this lecture, I examine the role that the struggle for free speech plays in Palestinian liberation. I attend to the means through which pro-Palestine speech and activism have been suppressed through quasi-legal means, including the IHRA definition of antisemitism. I argue that free speech is best understood not as a means of balancing different opposing sides, but rather as a dimension of human freedom. One implication of this approach is that the struggle for Palestinian self-determination has a specific contribution to make to our understanding of free speech in general. Finally, I consider what the ongoing genocide in Gaza means for the future of Palestine activism.