This statement was composed collaboratively by faculty in the Department of Gender Studies and was approved unanimously at a meeting of the Department on October 18th, 2023. The statement upholds the principles of our mission as a department, and is consistent with the work we do as professors and researchers.
Queen’s University has asked us to post the following notice regarding this collectively authored statement:
“The statement below is made on behalf of the Department of Gender Studies, not Queen’s University. The university is deeply concerned about the ongoing violence in the Middle East and the Principal has issued several statements on behalf of the university. Those statements can be found here.”
We are terrified by the attacks and the violence that is unfolding in Israel and Palestine, and by the ongoing assault on the population of Gaza.
This is a deeply difficult time for everyone, but especially for those who have loved ones in the region. All of our hearts are heavy as we witness this tragedy. Many students, staff and faculty have family or friends whose lives have been lost or otherwise devastated by this escalating violence. Whether we are closely affected or far removed from the devastation, we are all touched by it.
Staff and faculty of Gender Studies and Black Studies acknowledge the pain and suffering of everyone affected, near and far. Human life is precious, every person is born to flourish, to live free from violence.
This escalation of violence does not stand in or by itself. Neither should it be interpreted outside of ongoing settler colonialism, occupation and dehumanization. We work to understand the context of this present violence, and to acknowledge the broader conditions shaping the present violence.
We condemn all forms of violence starting with the fast violence that costs human lives in Israel as well as Palestine. And we condemn the slow violence of living under conditions of occupation in an “open air prison” and being denied basic human rights. We condemn the erasure of trans and queer Palestinians as integral to their communities, along with the many ways powerful politicians and the media refer to all Palestinians as terrorists or dehumanize them through forms of animalization. These representations not only ignore but reinforce the decades-long violence against Palestinians. We oppose this colonial hierarchization of lives.
We who live on Turtle Island want to take seriously our responsibility as residents of another settler colonial state which has perpetrated and continues to perpetuate unfathomable violence against Indigenous peoples. All settler colonialism is interconnected.
The settler colonial structure of Turtle Island perpetuates Islamophobia and antisemitism. Before contributing to the militarist and carceral rhetoric that provokes only further harm, violence and destruction, we would like to invite all to reflect on the weight of the moment without stripping people involved of their humanity. Everybody has the right to mourn their dead!
We urge all of you to take care of yourselves and those you care about. We ask you to be cautious of all media accounts, recognizing their many limitations and biases in their accounts of the current reality which are presented with little historical, political or economic context. (Please see the resources below on carefully assessing the news sources you use).
We support our Provost’s continued commitment to academic freedom at a time of growing censorship. Please know that GNDS and BLCK faculty and staff care deeply about your safety and wellbeing. We are all committed to creating classroom environments that foster critical and anti-oppressive thinking, that actively promote careful and deep engagement with complex issues and situations in the service of justice for all, for liberation and social transformation.
We want to condemn all efforts to repress and criminalize peaceful protest. People have a right to be in the streets, to freely articulate their mourning and their demands in struggles for liberation and equal rights for all. As GNDS and BLCK faculty and staff, we stand against all forms of settler colonialism and authoritarianism, including in this context.
We call upon Western governments and the international community to do everything possible for an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation and passage for humanitarian aid. The structural violence against Palestinians, ongoing for decades, must end. So must the violence against Israeli civilians. This entails ending the siege of Gaza and ensuring freedom of movement as well as the right to return for Palestinians. Peace in the region can only be achieved on the basis of land back, of mutual co-existence and recognition of the rights of all people.
The settler colonial structure of Turtle Island perpetuates Islamophobia and antisemitism and deploys these marginalized populations against each other. This is a time when forms of societal racism are being further escalated by extremist groups seeking to capitalize on hatred and suffering. It thus becomes even more urgent to engage in practices of multi-directional solidarity, as already bravely used by Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Jewish people, especially trans and queer folks, to challenge these deadly and murderous dynamics and to imagine and practice life-affirming alternatives for all. Let us acknowledge that the people suffering the most, both here and elsewhere, are from these marginalized backgrounds and yet it is BIPOC collectives that are standing most bravely in solidarity.
Resources and further references in no specific order:
Union of Teachers & Employees of Birzeit University Ramallah - Palestine
We cannot cross until we carry each other- Arielle Angel
Have We Learned Nothing?- David Klion
Justice is indivisible: Palestine as a feminist issue - Nada Elia | Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society
To say and think a life beyond what settler colonialism has made - Samera Esmier
On Mourning and Statehood: A Response to Joshua Leifer - Gabriel Winant
Palestine Emergency Appeal - Islamic Society Canada
Human Rights Watch Report - A Threshold Crossed
Solidarity Statements and petitions