Ilana Feldman

Ilana Feldman

Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs
Faculty: Full-Time
Bldg. X (2112 G St.) 101
Phone: 202-994-7728
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Historical anthropology, government and bureaucracy, humanitarianism, citizenship, colonialism, policing and security. Regional focus: Middle East.

Professor Feldman is a cultural and historical anthropologist who works in the Middle East. Her research has focused on the Palestinian experience, both inside and outside of historic Palestine, examining practices of government, humanitarianism, policing, displacement, and citizenship.

Current Research

Professor Feldman has conducted ethnographic and archival research in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Her first book, an historical ethnography of the civil service in Gaza during the British Mandate and Egyptian Administration, explored how everyday bureaucracy and ordinary governing practices contributed to shaping people and place in the often extraordinary circumstances prevailing in Gaza.

Ongoing Projects

  • Research on humanitarianism and the post-1948 Palestinian experience, with particular interest in how humanitarian practice defines populations and shapes community. Given the dispersal of Palestinians across the Middle East, this project involves multi-sited research in and on Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. The research looks at the experience of both aid providers and recipients. This project explores the dynamics of long-term humanitarianism and the politics of living in the humanitarian condition.
  • Investigation of policing and security practices in Gaza during the Mandate and Administration. This project links local security concerns to broader dynamics, examining colonial policing, international peacekeeping, and local police forces. It investigates police practices of broad surveillance and the encouragement of informing among the population. An aim of the research is to understand the role of policing in shaping ideas about citizenship in Gaza.


Ph.D. 2002, University of Michigan
M.A. 1994, New York University
B.A. 1991, Wesleyan University


To see Dr. Feldman's CV, click here.


2015  Feldman, I. Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

2010  Feldman, I., and M. Ticktin, eds. In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care. Durham: Duke University Press.

2008  Feldman, I. Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule (1917-1967). Durham: Duke University Press.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

2015  Feldman, I. “Looking for humanitarian purpose: Endurance and the value of lives in a Palestinian refugee camp,"  Public Culture 27(3):: 427-447.

2015  Feldman, I. "What is a camp? Legitimate refugee lives in spaces of long-term displacement," Geoforum 66: 244–252. 

2012  Feldman, I. "The humanitarian condition: Palestinian refugees and the politics of living," Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism & Development (3)2: 155-172.

2012  Feldman, I. "The challenge of categories: UNRWA and the definition of a 'Palestine refugee'," Journal of Refugee Studies. Published online May 4.  doi: 10.1093/jrs/fes004.

2010  Feldman, I. "Ad hoc humanity: Peacekeeping and the limits of international community in Gaza," American Anthropologist 112(3): 416-29. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1433.2010.01249.x

2009  Feldman, I. "Gaza's humanitarianism problem," Journal of Palestine Studies 38(3): 22-37.

2008  Feldman, I. "Refusing invisibility: Documentation and memorialization in Palestinian refugee claims" in "Invisible Displacements," special issue of Journal of Refugee Studies 21 (4): 498-516; doi:10.1093/jrs/fen044.

2008  Feldman, I. "Waiting for Palestine: Refracted citizenship and latent sovereignty in Gaza," Citizenship Studies 12(5): 447-63.

2008  Feldman, I. "Mercy trains and ration rolls: Between government and humanitarianism in Gaza." In I.M. Okkenhaug and N. Naguib, eds., Interpreting Welfare and Relief in the Middle East, 175-194. Leiden: Brill Press.

2007  Feldman, I. "The Quaker way: Ethical labor and humanitarian relief," American Ethnologist 34(4): 689-705.

2007  Feldman, I. "Observing the everyday: Policing and the conditions of possibility in Gaza (1948-67)," Interventions: Journal of Postcolonial Studies 9(3): 414-433.

2007  Feldman, I. "Difficult distinctions: Refugee law, humanitarian practice, and political identification in Gaza," Cultural Anthropology 22(1): 129-69.

2006  Feldman, I. "Home as a refrain: Remembering and living displacement in Gaza," History and Memory 18(2): 10-47.


Recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Scholar Award from the Office of the GW Vice President for Research.

Classes Taught

To see syllabi, click on the course title.

Anth 3513: Human Rights and Ethics
Anth 3707: Anthropology of the Middle East
Anth 6102: Proseminar in Sociocultural Anthropology
Anth 6302: Topics: Anthropology of Intervention: Development, Human Rights, and Humanitarianism
Anth 6302: Topics: Anthropology of Citizenship and Displacement: Belonging and Exclusion in the Middle East
Anth 6591: Topics: Anthropology of Security
Anth 6707: Topics: Anthropology of the State and Government in the Middle East
Anth 6707: Topics: Anthropology of Citizenship and Displacement


Last updated March 2, 2017