Defeat, Steadfastness, and the Future

Many places in the world have been contending with experiences of political defeat. Progressive struggles, revolutions, and uprisings are defeated every day. There are also colonizations and military occupations that defeat entire populations. And then there is a global economic system that attacks and defeats local aspirations for social justice and equality. One response has been to bracket defeat in the effort to strengthen the struggles to overcome it; another has been to recognize defeat but only in order to critically investigate the powers that engender it. Consequently, this experience of defeat, and its unexpected consequences, is rarely given reflective consideration. How are we to think the future from the past and present of ongoing defeats? Is defeat the opposite of despair or is working through defeat the condition of possibility of other futures? What grounds for political action does defeat enable, and what is the grammar of this political action? These explorations are central to reconsidering the proliferating conceptual language of “resilience” by comparing it with other concepts such as steadfastness, which we borrow from the Palestinian political experience of struggle. Other languages and experiences will offer additional articulations that we hope to investigate in parallel.

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