Welcome everyone. On this site you can learn about me and my academic work, as well as other research and translation projects I've been involved in. As I write my dissertation, I'll also be posting bits and pieces from the cutting room floor in the fieldwork archives. Finally, I'll be sharing some of the photographs I've taken over the past decade in the Middle East and the United States. If you want to get in touch, I can be reached at: pkohlbr1 (at) jhu (dot) edu.
Most of my time is spent on my dissertation. My project follows the institution of private property in the West Bank through an archival and ethnographic study of land registration initiatives: Jordanian land tilting in the 1950s and 1960s, Israeli state land surveys, "first registration" undertaken by private Israeli and Palestinian real estate companies, and contemporary Palestinian Authority land titling projects. I study the changing legal, practical and technical understandings of private property; the material relations it has facilitated; and the role it has played in the political and economic projects of settlers, cultivators, and capitalists in the West Bank's rural highlands. Land registration offers a unique view of the ways in which regimes of capital accumulation and agrarian change, on the one hand, and legal regimes and registry practices, on the other, interact at various conjunctures to produce numerous, flexible forms of property. Ultimately, these forms of property structure the contradictory market and territorial imperatives that shape land struggles in the West Bank.
My dissertation is based on fieldwork carried out during the summers of 2013 and 2014, a longer stay that ran from October 2015 through the end of January 2017, and a final visit over the spring of 2018. In the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan, my research draws on a wide array of sources: documents from state and private archives; court rulings and protocols; interviews with farmers, land brokers, lawyers, land defense activists, government officials, and surveyors; and long periods of participant-observation of ongoing Palestinian Authority land titling projects. My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Palestinian American Research Center, and by JHU grants from the Jewish Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality programs.
In addition to my academic studies, I have done various research projects as part of my involvement with Palestine solidarity work. This has involved research and translation for the Stop the Wall Campaign and a related group, the Land Defense Coalition. Involvement in movement research is very important to me, and I am always keen to get to know and learn from other academics and researchers who incorporate political work into their practice.