When the time came to complete her graduate studies dissertation, Julie Norman knew she wanted to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for her research. Norman’s book, The Second Palestinian Intifada: Civil Resistance, which will be released Nov. 17, is the result of her research and voyage to the tense region.
Norman knew she wanted to focus on the events of the conflict, and received a human rights internship for the first summer she went. “Through that work, I was able to travel a lot and talk to people and do interviews and just get a sense of what was happening on the ground there,” she said. The book relies on case studies, interviews, and Norman’s own critical analysis regarding the presence of unarmed, non-violent resistance in Palestine, and was largely driven by her experiences as an observer in the conflict.
After receiving her doctoral degree in international relations at Washington D.C.’s American University in 2008, Norman started teaching at Concordia last year. She cites students’ interest in both human rights and Middle Eastern affairs as a major factor in her choice to teach north of the border. Norman most enjoys hearing the various viewpoints of many of her students on certain issues, particularly human rights, international relations, conflict in the Middle East and social movements.
“The topics that I teach resonate with a lot of students in different ways, and I find it fascinating to hear from individuals about what they’re bringing to that topic, and then what they, in turn, take from it,” she said. “And it’s really great just to have that exchange of ideas and opinions with other young people on a daily basis.”
Despite being raised in a Catholic household by Italian-American parents, Norman said she was captivated by the Israel-Palestine conflict from a young age, even if she had no personal connection with it herself. “I just found it really encapsulated a lot of what people fight for still: land, nation, identity, state, religion &- things that people suffer for and are passionate about,” she said. “There’s two communities there that have both faced a lot of suffering, and both have very strong narratives that I felt were misunderstood.” Norman said that living in the U.S. did not expose her to the Palestinian narrative before researching it herself. Norman explained that after the events of 9-11, “the way people were talking about the Middle East and the Arab world in general made me want to actually go there and see for myself and bring more awareness about what was really going on.”
During her stay in Palestine, Norman witnessed a number of powerful events in the midst of the Intifada. She recalled meeting one woman whose plight was especially memorable. “Every day she would go to school and then she would come home and put on rubber boots and stomp in the mud to make mud bricks to rebuild houses in her village. And that was just a daily routine for her.” Norman also remembered “just hearing from people and sitting in their homes and having people show you their bullet wounds, seeing pictures of people’s brothers and sisters and fathers who had been imprisoned and whom they hadn’t seen.”
Norman hopes that readers will gain an appreciation for not only the non-violent resistance taking place in Palestine, but also for the challenges of building a cohesive non-violent movement, acknowledging not only its presence, but its many obstacles as well.
Julie Norman’s book The Second Palestinian Intifada: Civil Resistance will be released on Nov. 17. She will discuss her book at a book launch presented by QPIRG, alongside projections from photojournalist Valerian Mazataud. The launch will be held Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. at 1500 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., suite 204.