Ilana Feldman

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Ilana Feldman

Professor of Anthropology, History, and International Affairs


Email: Ilana Feldman
Office Phone: (202) 994-7728

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.She has conducted ethnographic and archival research in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.

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

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

Professor Feldman’s first two books explored dynamics of governance in the unsettled space of the Gaza Strip. Gaza may seem an exceptional space, but her research shows that it reveals governing and security dynamics that resonate widely.

She has also done extensive research on the more than seventy years of Palestinian displacement, investigating the dynamics of refugees living with, and against, humanitarian assistance over this long period and across many spaces in the Middle East. This research has resulted in numerous articles and a book, Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics. In addition to continuing work on humanitarianism, Professor Feldman is researching the central place of Palestine—and efforts to solve the Palestine “problem”—in shaping international institutions and discourse.

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


2018  Feldman, I.  Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics. Oakland: University of California Press.

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

2018  Feldman, I. “Care and Suspicion: Corruption as Definition in Humanitarian Relations.” Current Anthropology 59, S18: S160-S170.

2017  Feldman, I. “Humanitarian Care and the Ends of Life: The Politics of Aging and Dying in a Palestinian Refugee Camp.” Cultural Anthropology 32, 1: 41-66.

2016  Feldman, I.  “Reaction, Experimentation, and Refusal: Palestinian Refugees Confront the Future.” History and Anthropology 27, 4: 411-29.

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.

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