Kevin M. Smith


Working under Professors Maurer and Mitchell, Kevin Smith has developed a study that he says is unique: a dual critique of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism, using social class as an analytical tool. Most current literature contributes to a perspective of the two populations as incommensurable national groups, which is not only inaccurate, given the historical incidences of class-based cooperation, but particularly debilitating for political activism and bringing about positive social change in the region today. Kevin followed his graduation from UCI by teaching English in Nablus, Palestine. He hopes to continue on to graduate school, pursuing a Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




This essay provides a brief overview of the development of nationalisms in Palestine, both Zionist and Palestinian, during the British Mandate as well as the transcendence of these essentialist narratives through anational working-class cooperation in the region. Contrasting the development of Zionism throughout the Jewish diaspora in Europe alongside the spread of various Arab nationalisms in the Middle East, I suggest that these nationalisms were not based on inherent rights to territory or primordial ties but instead coincide with the asymmetrically global spread of capital and the rise of territorial nation-states. Based on the labor history of Palestine, I describe the labor force throughout the mandate period and trace incidences of anational working-class cooperation between Jewish and Arab workers. These cases, although limited and often involving unfruitful strikes, offer alternatives to dominant intellectual approaches to the Zionist-Palestinian conflict as being one exclusively of incommensurable nationalisms. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentors                                                                                                               

William M. Maurer
School of Social Sciences

Laura J. Mitchell
School of Humanities

Kevin’s paper is on a controversial and important topic, one that has arguably defined the tenor of Western relationships with the Middle East for much of the past hundred years. By delving into the origins of the Israel/Palestine conflict, however, Kevin also illuminates broader processes of state formation, economic class relationships, and power that complicate assessments of this and other global flashpoints. Kevin has produced an essay that we think goes beyond traditional disciplines; this is an argument in itself for the value of academic research in addressing the world’s most pressing problems. As his research mentors, we also benefited from the interdisciplinary conversation that Kevin helped to foster. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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