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EU–Hamas actors in a state of permanent liminality

Abstract

This article contributes to the debate on liminality within International Relations (IR) theory by focusing on the actorness of the European Union (EU) and Hamas. The concept of liminality as a transitional process is applied to frame the situation of both the EU and Hamas as political actors in-between socially established categories. This article explores how the liminal identity of these two actors impacts, on the one hand, their relations with each other and, on the other hand, their relations of ‘self’. Exploring the procedural relations of the EU and Hamas, it argues for the necessity of recognising liminal categories in IR theory and practice, while, at the same time, it highlights the limits of such in-between categories in a world order still structured around the state.

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List of interviews

  1. Erik Mohns, 2009, Personal Communication.

  2. Interview with an EU Official, June 2015, Brussels.

  3. Interview with an NGO Director, 9 September, 2007, Ramallah.

  4. Interview with an Official from One of the EU Member States’ Permanent Representative Offices, 31 March, 2012, Brussels.

  5. Interview with Dr Ahmed Yousef, then Political Adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, Office of the Prime Minister, 11 September, 2007, Gaza.

  6. Interview with Dr Basem N Naim, then Minister of Youth, Sport and Health, PNA, 11 September, 2007, Gaza.

  7. Interview with Dr Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of Hamas and member of Hamas’ leadership in the Gaza Strip, 16 October, 2014, Gaza.

  8. Interviews with Hamas officials, 2007 and 2009, Gaza and Nablus.

  9. Interviews with Hamas officials, October 2007, Gaza.

  10. Interviews with Hamas officials, October 2014, Gaza.

  11. Interviews with Zahar, Naim and Yousef, 2014, Gaza.

  12. Swiss, Norwegian, Russian and Turkish officials, March, 2010, Personal Communication Interviews with Various EU Officials, Brussels, 2009 and 2012.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank the participants at the ACCESS Europe workshop The European Union and the Arab Spring: Constructions of Security in the Southern Mediterranean, held at the University of Amsterdam on 13 and 14 November 2014, members of the Globalization and Europeanization research group at Roskilde University and our anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and engagement with the development of this article. Michelle Pace would also like to thank her interviewees in Gaza, Ramallah, Nablus, Jerusalem and Brussels for nuanced discussions of this topic as well as all those kind colleagues and friends who facilitated these interviews.

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Pace, M., Pallister-Wilkins, P. EU–Hamas actors in a state of permanent liminality. J Int Relat Dev 21, 223–246 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-016-0080-y

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Keywords

  • actors
  • communitas
  • European Union
  • Hamas
  • identity
  • imitation
  • liminality
  • masters of ceremonies
  • permanent liminality
  • practice
  • trickster