Jennifer Kelly

2020 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor; Feminist Studies
UC Santa Cruz

Project Title: Three pre-tenure projects

Project Description: The Hellman Fellowship will support subvention costs for my first monograph, Invited to Witness: Solidarity Tourism Across Occupied Palestine. My book is a multi-sited ethnographic study of solidarity tourism in Palestine. Situating Palestine as a central site of inquiry for feminist studies, critical ethnic studies, and transnational American studies, I analyze the relationships between race, colonialism, and movement-building in spaces where tourism and military occupation function in tandem. Drawing from participant observation of solidarity tours across Palestine/Israel and interviews with guides, organizers, community members, and tourists, I explore what happens when tourism understands itself as solidarity and when solidarity functions through modalities of tourism. I argue that solidarity tourism in Palestine functions as a fraught localized political strategy, and an emergent industry, through which Palestinian organizers refashion conventional tourism to the region by extending deliberately truncated invitations to tourists to come to Palestine and witness the effects of Israeli state practice on Palestinian land and lives. I describe the invitation as a genre, marked by the repetition of certain conventions, and I theorize who the invitation is for, what it is meant to do, and how those subjects we understand as “toured” redefine the invitation in order to confront and resist colonial state violence. I also detail the conditions that have led Palestinians to make their case through solidarity tourism in the first place, describing how tourists travel to Palestine to see the effects of Israeli occupation for themselves despite the volumes of literature Palestinians have produced on their own condition. “Invitation” is not immediately understood as a critical ethnic studies keyword, nor is it a centrally theorized concept in the literature on tourism. But in Palestine, where Palestinians do not control either their borders or the historical narrative, tour guides are working to wrest both the capacity to invite and, in Edward Said’s words, “the permission to narrate” from Israeli control.