Communities and Conflict in Mandate Palestine

Mapping New Archival Sources to Village-Level Data
Daniel Arnon, Richard McAlexander, and Michael Rubin
Oct 26, 2021 at | Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics Auditorium


The historical literature on political conflict in Mandate Palestine richly emphasizes the Israeli and Palestinian narratives of the origins of the conflict and analyzes the lived experiences in specific localities, based on oral histories, memory, and archival materials. Yet despite this wealth of information, few efforts have been made to standardize these local-level sources for systematic comparative analysis among the complete set of communities in Mandatory Palestine and across the variety of relevant identity cleavages: urban and rural, social and economic class, ethnic and religious, sedentary and nomadic, and political affiliation.

Using a wealth of archival sources, including newly collected repositories from the Village Files, our speakers document social, political, and economic characteristics within villages throughout Mandate Palestine for use in both qualitative analysis of specific villages as well as organized in a dataset for use in quantitative analysis. They then link these data to participation in the 1936-1939 revolt, experiences of British repression, and village displacement during the 1948 War. They present these data and ongoing research projects addressing 1) how village social structure impacts displacement outcomes during the 1948 War and 2) patterns of repression and dissent in the 1936-1939 Revolt.

With these data they hope to open up the discussion on the study of Mandate Palestine through the systematic use of archival information and transforming it into quantitative data. They will discuss both the sources of information they use, their ethical and normative considerations, and the potential biases that arise through the use of archival sources from conflict settings. They will end with a discussion on how to generalize their methods and findings both within the Mandate Palestine case and the Middle East more broadly. 

Daniel Arnon is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona. Arnon recently earned his PhD in Political Science and Conflict Studies at Emory University. Previously, he completed a Master’s degree in Political Science and Political Economy at the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics at the University of North Carolina – Asheville. His research centers around the conflict processes between individuals and the state, including individual violence against the state and state violence against individuals. 

Richard McAlexander is a Political Scientist specializing in International Relations, and he is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. McAlexander earned his PhD from Columbia University in 2020, and his research interests include political violence, terrorism, nonviolent resistance, and imperialism, using social science methods to study and answer historical questions. His work has appeared in International Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Politics, Research & Politics, the Journal of Global Security Studies, Review of Policy Research, Cold War History and The Washington Post.

Michael Rubin is an Assistant Professor at the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut. Prior to that, he was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Center for Peace and Security Studies (cPASS) at the University of California, San Diego. Rubin earned PhD in Political Science from Columbia University in 2018, specializing in International Relations and Comparative Politics. His research centers around armed conflict processes and political violence. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution​, Conflict Management and Peace Science​, and Journal of Global Security Studies.

Co-sponsored by the Departments of History and Near East Languages and Civilizations