The history of Palestine is overly political; most studies, especially of the Mandate period, when the British effectively colonized Palestine, focus on the political actors. In Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine
(Stanford University Press, 2018), Suzanne Schneider
produces a social and cultural study that does not ignore the political actors, walking us through how religion was used by the British in educational settings in attempts to quell nationalism. Schneider’s work is also unique because in examines the Jewish and Arab populations in Mandate Palestine simultaneously, allowing us to see how the same British policies affected both populations. She also draws on British colonial history and late Ottoman history to inform her dense analysis of Mandate Palestine’s educational and religious history. Thus, she demonstrates where there is overlap and where there is divergence. We talk to her about the theory underpinning her work, how to write about religion in the early 20th century Middle East, the difference between private and public education in Mandate Palestine, and her work at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.
Suzanne Schneider is the deputy director at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, where, in addition to teaching, she oversees program execution, development initiatives, and institutional partnerships. She received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. An interdisciplinary scholar working in the fields of history, religious studies, and political theory, Suzanne’s research interests relate to Jewish and Islamic modernism, religious movements in the modern Middle East, the history of modern Palestine/Israel, secularism, and political identity. She is also a regular contributor to The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media.
She is the author of Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine
(Stanford University Press, 2018).
Nadirah Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.