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Tragic Encounters and Ordinary EthicsPalestine-Israel in British Universities$
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Ruth Sheldon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781784993146

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784993146.001.0001

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Introduction: unsettling subjects of justice and ethics

Introduction: unsettling subjects of justice and ethics

(p.1) Introduction: unsettling subjects of justice and ethics
Tragic Encounters and Ordinary Ethics

Ruth Sheldon

Manchester University Press

This chapter begins with an ethnographic account of the high profile student conflicts around free speech and racism which unfolded across UK campuses in 2008-9 in response to ‘Operation Cast Lead’. The discussion focuses on the unsettling quality of these events in order to introduce a number of key elements in the framing of this study. First, the chapter highlights how campus struggles around Palestine-Israel are not only constituted through competing discourses in the abstract but are also the locus of intense feelings, contradictory desires and visceral interpersonal encounters. Second, is argued that these raging campus conflicts over Palestine-Israel involve the destabilisation of established spatial boundaries under conditions of globalisation and so can be helpfully connected to Nancy Fraser’s theory of ‘abnormal justice’. Third, by highlighting how this case is also the focus of disputed historical claims, the chapter introduces helpful resonances with aesthetic notions of the tragic. The chapter concludes by introducing some key interlocutors - Ludwig Wittgenstein, Stanley Cavell and Veena Das - who will help with a key task of this book: to develop an ethnographic imagination attentive to movements between the discursive/embodied and public/personal dimensions of democratic life.

Keywords:   Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Israel, abnormal justice, tragic, social theory

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