Incarcerated Childhood and the Politics of Unchilding

Incarcerated Childhood and the Politics of Unchilding
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Published Date: October 2019
ISBN-13: 9781108555470

This book was shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards 2020.

Who has the right to a safe and protected childhood? Incarcerated Childhood and the Politics of Unchilding deepens understanding of children as political capital in the hands of those in power, critically engaging children’s voices alongside archival, historical, and ethnographic material in Palestine. Offering the concept of unchilding’, Shalhoub-Kevorkian exposes the political work of violence designed to create, direct, govern, transform, and construct colonized children as dangerous, racialized others, enabling their eviction from the realm of childhood itself.

Penetrating children’s everyday intimate spaces and, simultaneously, their bodies and lives, unchilding works to enable a complex machinery of violence against Palestinian children: imprisonment, injuries, loss, trauma, and militarized political occupation. At the same time as the book documents violations of children’s rights and the consequences this has for their present and future well-being, it charts children’s resistance to and power to interrupt colonial violence, reclaiming childhood and, with it, Palestinian futures.

Judges' Notes on why this book was shortlisted:

This is a ground-breaking academic study, highly readable and accessible to a general readership, weaving the voices and everyday struggles of Palestinian children into patterns of childhood dominated by the realities of arrests, jailing, lost limbs, lost friends and family members. The powerful concept of ‘unchilding’ is a new and important way of looking at what this aspect of settler colonialism means for successive generations of children who have lived through it, and still do so today. Nadera’s unmistakable empathy with the children of her own everyday neighbourhood in Jerusalem makes this a highly unusual and powerful addition to studies of Palestine society today.

Notes by Victoria Brittain, Judge, Palestine Book Awards 2020
Read the Judges' Notes for all the shortlisted books here.

Review(s):

Reviewed by: Omar Ahmed

Whilst literature on Israel’s state violence against Palestinian children is nothing new, there are apparent limitations on the current discourse which tends not to extend beyond theories of childhood trauma in conflict zones; nor do they form part of a critique of the ideologies underpinning Israel as a settler-colonial state. More often than...

Past Winners

  • Against the Loveless World
  • The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
  • Life in a Country Album
  •  There Where You Are Not
  • The Parisan
  • Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine
  • Stone Men: The Palestinians who built Israel
  • Nabil Anani: Palestine, Land and People
  • Where the Bird Disappeared
  • In the Land of My Birth: A Palestinian Boyhood
  • Balfour in the Dock: J.M.N. Jeffries & the Case for the Prosecution
  • Brothers Apart: Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Arab world
  • The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine
  • On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and other displacements
  • Gaza under Hamas: From Islamic Democracy to Islamist Governance
  • The Commander: Fawzi Al-Qawuqji and the fight for Arab Independence 1914-1948
  • Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre
  • The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories
  • Palestinians in Syria: Nakba Memories of Shattered Communities
  • I Remember My Name