AURDIP’s Webinar by Dr. Sara Roy : “Scarcity as a Form of Control : How Does Gaza Live ?”


Dr. Sara Roy from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University will be giving the next AURDIP’s Webinar on Tuesday February 2 at 5 p.m. (Paris time). If you would like to follow this webinar on Zoom, please complete the registration form here.

- Title : Scarcity as a Form of Control : How Does Gaza Live ?

- Abstract : The Gaza Strip and West Bank have been under Israeli occupation for nearly 54 years—almost three-quarters of Israel’s entire history. The economic impact of occupation has been ruinous for both areas, especially Gaza, despite limited and now, largely lost achievements. Today, both areas face declining or negative growth, unprecedented levels of unemployment and impoverishment and an unsustainable dependence on (decreasing levels of) international assistance, which can no longer stabilize or even slow decline. The situation in Gaza is particularly acute with its economy in “free fall” according to the World Bank. The slow but steady demise of the Palestinian economy results largely from policies that are intentional and malign.

These policies accomplish Israel’s principal objective—precluding viable Palestinian economic development and with it, the possibility of a Palestinian state. Israel’s policies— applied through an ongoing occupation that extracts Palestinian resources and deprives Palestinians of their political, economic and social rights—aim to extinguish Palestinian political demands and aspirations. Nowhere is this more evident than in Gaza.

Gaza is central to the conflict and to its ultimate resolution. This has always been the case and it will remain so. This is why Israel has worked to marginalize Gaza politically and economically in an attempt to remove it from any form of serious consideration particularly as it regards the resolution of the conflict let alone a future state (no matter what form it may assume). Consequently, Gaza is defined as exceptional, outside legitimate political discourse. Yet, treating Gaza as an exception is simply an extension, albeit more extreme, of policies long used by Israel to separate and isolate Palestinians in the West Bank and in Israel. In this regard Gaza’s status is part of a long and consistent policy continuum of containment and removal. (As such Gaza became the model for the fragmentation of the West Bank into small, disconnected enclaves under constant assault.)

I shall examine Gaza’s imposed and rapid decline over the last decade in particular and the ways in which Israeli policies have further and more dangerously constrained and delimited life and the particularly ruinous impact of these policies politically, economically and socially. Based on interviews with friends and colleagues in Gaza, I also shall describe some of the critical and unprecedented changes that have emerged and how people cope with them. I shall conclude with some reflections on the future.

- Sara roy

Sara Roy is a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. Very early on, she became interested in Palestine, and more particularly in the Gaza Strip, where she made several stays. As early as 1995, in her book, The Gaza Strip : the Political Economy of De-Development, a reference work that has seen several reeditions, she introduced the concept of de-development, to characterize the way in which Israel, by controlling the borders, was stifling the economy of the Gaza Strip to keep it in a state of subjection. It was a turning point in the history of economic thought, which for the first time was intended not to increase the well-being of society, but to decrease it.

Since 1995, the situation has hardly improved. Sara continued to travel to Gaza and publish on the subject, broadening her thinking to all dimensions of Gazan society. In 2011, she published Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza : Engaging the Islamist Social Sector, and in June 2021 her next book, Unsilencing Gaza : Reflections on Resistance, will be published.

- The webinar of Dr. Sara Roy will be broadcast simultaneously by Zoom and live on the Universitaires pour la Palestine facebook page (

If you would like to follow this webinar on Zoom, please complete the registration form here. The connection link will be sent to you the day before by email to the address indicated on this form.