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Theory for Praxis: Peacemaking, Cunning Recognition, and the Constitution of Enmity

Joyce Dalsheim

Keywords: ENMITY; ISRAEL; NATIONAL IDENTITY; PALESTINE; PEACEMAKING; PRAXIS; RECOGNITION; THEORY

Abstract

This article argues that scholars and activists concerned with peace and social justice in Israel/Palestine may unintentionally undermine their own goals when they abandon theory for praxis through recognition of parties to conflict. Recognition of ethno-national identity in peacemaking efforts helps reproduce the hegemonic order. Recognizing the subaltern here is a form of Elizabeth Povinelli's 'cunning recognition', which may do little more than produce a moral community of the recognizers. This case illustrates a broader pattern in which controversial ideas only succeed in arriving at the center of politics when they can no longer be implemented. It raises concerns about abandoning theory for praxis more generally, suggesting that theory not be abandoned because it is inconvenient for political purposes.

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