Ralph Bunche and the Politics of Binationalism in Palestine

A talk by Alex Lubin, Director of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut

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Duration: 51:13

Although Ralph Bunche has has lionized as the statesman who successfully negotiated the armistice agreement ending the Arab-Israeli war, Bunche's pre-WWII writing and politics have been largely overlooked, forgotten, and expunged from the historical record. It was during his years as a bystander and fellow-traveler in the Black Popular Front in the 1930s that Bunche developed a Marxist analysis of decolonization that privileged binationalism over nationalism. In this talk Lubin draws on a chapter of his book, Geographies of Liberation, in order to rethink Bunche's legacy and to situate him in the shifting geopolitical history that characterized the transition in Palestine from British mandatory rule to Israeli independence during 1946-1948. During these years, Bunche contributed to a political formation – binationalism – that united the aspirations of the Black popular front, Palestinian communists, as well as anti-Statist and anti-nationalist Jewish intellectuals. While it is important to understand why the politics of binationalism in Palestine fell apart, it is equally important to understand the conjunctures that led to its formation.

Alex Lubin has been a member of the American Studies Association since 1995. He is the Director of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut and is on-leave from the University of New Mexico, where he teaches in the American Studies Department.

Co-sponsored by the UCLA Department of History