Course:ANTH213/2024/topic/Resistance Group 2

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Resistance is often associated with more overt, actionable behaviors. Although overt, actionable modes of resistance are necessary, it is important to recognize that resistance can take various forms beyond direct actions that individuals and groups can employ to challenge dominant power structures, hegemonic social norms, and narratives.[1] Disregarding non-actionable forms of resistance, risks overlooking the intricate ways in which resistance operates beyond the realm of overt confrontation. Furthermore, the emphasis on direct actions in discussions of resistance reinforces a binary view of resistance as either passive or active, neglecting the nuanced spectrum of existing resistance strategies.[2] Resistance can manifest in myriad forms, ranging from everyday community care and acts of documenting state violence to more symbolic expressions of dissent. While resistance can look different around the world depending on the cultural contexts and the rights and freedoms one has, no act of resistance is too small. What is resisted can also affect how a group resists, as not all oppression is created equal and all groups have different challenges to face. This page showcases some of the many non-violent and violent forms that resistance can take, including dance, clothing, laughter, advocacy, media and community care. By considering the many different method of resistance, as well as the social and cultural implications if who is allowed to resist, it is possible to gain insight into the complex history and future of resistance.[3]

Resistance Against Government

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a historically complicated and extensive issue. Mass violence and oppression from the Israeli government (and its allies such as the UK, Canada and the USA) have caused both tremendous loss of lives and culture. While both Palestinians and their allies alike have attempted to fight back, because of Israel's widespread colonial status, it has allowed for them to commit various acts of ethnic cleansing and colonization.[4] [5]The Israeli government takes many steps to dehumanize Palestinians in any way possible such as Pinkwashing their military campaign portraying themselves as the “good guys” in the conflict. These ideas help them strip the people of their land but also their sexuality and autonomy (an idea that has been taken from their allies in Europe and the USA).[1] However, this has not stopped Palestine's will and right to exist, even if the ways they show their solidarity seem unconventional.

A woman wearing a black and white Palestinian keffiyeh

A Palestinian keffiyeh is a usually black and white (although it can come in many colors) cotton scarf that has become a symbol for both Palestinian liberation and patriotism. [6] Originally worn by Palestinian peasant farmers, the keffiyeh first gained popularity as a political symbol during the Arab war, where men of any class wore in to stand in solidarity with those revolting against British mandate. It later gained popularity once again during the 60s, when Israel banned the use of the Palestinian flag in Gaza, which caused Palestinians to use the keffiyeh to represent themselves. [7] This isn’t to say that the keffiyeh itself isn’t scrutinized by Israeli authorities, as Sarah Ihmoud puts it, “[Israel] attempts to silence our voices…[and]  discipline us into erasure, with punitive ramifications politically, professionally, and personally.” [2] Since the 2023 attack on the Gaza Strip, the keffiyeh has once again been popularized in the Western world as a way to stand in solidarity with Palestinian liberation and a call to ceasefire. The keffiyeh has also recently become popular on social media in both the Eastern and Western worlds, due to the ongoing severity of the Gaza conflict. Hashtags such as #WorldKeffiyehDay or simply #KeffiyehDay on “X” (formerly Twitter) and Instagram. These hashtags are often filled with solidarity and unity both for the movement and those of Palestinian heritage.[8]

Dabke is a form of group-based dance that is performed by a group of people during a celebration or holiday. While Dabke is performed by most Levantine Arabs, each group is different, including Palestinian Dabke. Palestinians use this dance to both share their histories and take a stand against colonial practices.[5] To quote Lena Meari in her journal about Palestinian epistemology, “[cultural practices are] ‘revolutionary’ in the sense of refusing to recognize and surrender to the power structures of colonialism, and a ‘becoming’ in the sense that it is a processional formation that is never finished or fixed”[9]. Dabke is used to not only represent happiness but also healing, memory and resilience. It is happiness about cultural holidays and celebrations but also a hope for a liberated Palestine and a reminder that they are still standing.[5]

Women in the Algerian war holding the Algerian flag, ready for combat

These types of oppression through force have also happened to the Algerian people, when France’s colonization of Algeria in 1830 caused much mistreatment and subsequent orientalism of Algerian women. France’s elites were simultaneously “fascinated and horrified” by Algeria’s Muslim religion and the modesty practiced by women there. Seeing this modesty as a challenge, French photographers attempted to de-veil Algerian women and then send their pin-up photos on postcards, where the French commoner could gawk at the sexual depravity and mysticism of the oriental women.[10] These images end up becoming one of the forefronts of the civil war and revolution from Algeria’s native people. However, these women are often depicted as hopeless and passive victims to their mistreatment, not being given credit for their role in the civil war effort. The reality is far from this, as at least 11,000 women helped in the Algerian war effort, if not more. This does include the many other women who cooked, cleaned and looked after children while others were on the frontlines[3]

An image of a group of Algerian women wearing the haik in 1913

Veiling for Algerian Muslim women became a way of not only practicing their faith but also showing their support of the revolt under French colonial rule. In colonization, to own a land is to own the women as well and be able to have your way with them.[10] Therefore, the act of covering yourself in these circumstances does not only deny the world from seeing you but it also denies the colonizer the act of colonization itself. Those in support of the French often did the opposite, donning dyed hair and makeup, even going to the extent of burning their haiks (an Islamic head and body covering worn by women). Women were often tasked with delivering weapons, bombs and other cargo, which they could hide under their haiks and go unnoticed by French checkpoint guards. In these instances, these women use the assumptions of inconspicuousness to their advantage.[3][11]

Overall, while some of these forms of resistance may seem pointless or inconspicuous at first, it is vital to remember that small acts of hope lead revolutions. When such large-scale acts of colonialism and state-sponsored violence occur, normal protesting and civil disobedience may become dangerous and violence, which is not something that every person can contribute to. An invisible way to show support for a cause can go a long way and small acts of kindness are crucial to a succeeding revolution. Hope and joy are also an important thing to remember in regards to resistance because you cannot fight for a better tomorrow if one does not have a spirit for change. A tyrannical government can be one of the hardest things to fight against, especially if one is outnumbered. While we watch the unfortunate past repeat itself, resistance and hope may be the only way it can be fought against.

Laughter as a Form of Resistance

“When the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts.”[12] Humour had long been an important and critical aspect of community resistance against the oppressive forces. Such seemingly insignificant everyday resistance or uncooperativeness through feigned ignorance are more powerful than we had given them credit for. Through mockery and sarcasm, we are creating our own narratives, taking back our own subjectivity and the power of the discourse. Through this narrative, they are dragged down from their positions above us. Through making them the subject of ridicule, they hold less power over us, at least in our own heads. With this change in how we perceive the elites and the preexisting power and social structure, we can begin challenging them in ways that are unimaginable other wise and foster social change, or even insurrections and revolution.

Laughing is a very inherent part of human nature. We all laugh sometimes and experience joy. However, it was criminalized for many to do so. Dominant groups are especially scared of the laughs of marginalized people since it creates a space which the masters are not only uninvited, but also subjected to ridicules by the people they despise. In one of the small towns in Southern United States, white people were so uncomfortable with black laughs that they set up barrels in the town square. When black people feel the urge to laugh, they had to stick their heads in the barrels to do so. There are also many contemporary examples of this. In 2015, eleven women (ten of them black) were stopped at a station during and train ride and were forced out of it because some people had filed complaints of them laughing too loudly.[13]The criminalization of it alone can demonstrate how powerful it is and how people in power are scared of it.

Humour and laughter as a from of resistance is especially important when other forms of resistance are not accessible or would bring daring consequences to people. For example, Chinese feminists had always been silenced and punished by the state due the the oppressive government structure and heavy censorship and surveillance in China. Many of them had to flee to other countries to ensure their personal safety. However, they were not defeated by those devastating circumstances. They had formed their own communities overseas and did not stop caring and advocating for the human rights issues in their homeland because they are physically in different countries. Recently, many of them are started to form queer feminist standup comedy groups as a way of space making and community building. Through the form of comedy, they were able to question and mock the state and authority in a way that was previously unheard of.[14] Public discourse surrounding human rights issues in China are constantly censored and prosecuted. [15]There are a lot of pocket crimes the state uses to punish those who are speaking up against the mainstream hegemonic narratives. Chinese queer feminist groups overseas, granted the privilege of being specially not in China and therefore free from the constant surveillance, are able to engage the audience with radical conversations in way that was unimaginable before. Constant censorship and surveillance carried out by the state can also cause psychological problems to its citizens. Many Chinese people fear to engage in public civil discussions even after they are no longer physically in China. By creating the safe space for people who dare to question the mainstream narrative, Chinese queer feminist groups are also helping people to use their native language in a new and revolutionary way that is free of censorship, which help create radical imaginations of a free China and foster social changes.

The Goatface Experience Photography by Mandee Johnson August 14, 2013 The Virgil | Los Angeles, CA
The Goatface Experience Photography by Mandee Johnson August 14, 2013 The Virgil | Los Angeles, CA

Comedy standup is also arguably one of the most suitable forms of humour for community resistance since it physically requires a space for both the comedian and the audience. Through the process of making such a space, a sense of community can be created. This type of space can be abused and complicit in the acts of sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia carried out by people if the manager of the space do not make an effort to avoid it. Especially since this country has a long history of racism and exclusion of im/migrants.[16] However, if done correctly, it does have a potential for creating safe spaces for marginalized communities. For example, many migrant queer people find themselves living in the periphery, unable to relate to the traditional cisheteronormative migrant communities not the mainstream hegemonic “white” queer communities.[17] Organizing standup comedy events can help people from the margins find a place of belonging. By speaking up about their marginalized experiences and making it funny, they are also rejecting the mainstream damage centred narrative of the passive victimhood that is often portrayed by the media. They are able to use their own words and describe their experiences however they want instead of having their stories told by people who are unable to understand what they are going through. By sharing their stories to the public, they are also speaking against the dominant cultural hegemony and provoking critical thinking of the audience.

Humour is also an important copying mechanism for community survival during difficult situations. Many people and communities employ humour during their organizing and protests. For example, one of the most famous and influential movements during the Aids/HIV crisis was the ACT UP movement. During this movement, people committed their time and energy to organize because of the shared struggle and care for the community. They had shown solidarity with marginalized people inside and outside of the United States through slogans like “Fight Aids, Not Arabs” and “Money for Aids, Not War.”[18] They had shown resilience through not only civil disobedience and using their body for resistance and protecting each other, but also the making of queer space with queer joy and love. They were united not only by anger towards all the criminalization of HIV and the unjust treatments and discrimination against people who carries HIV or have Aids carried out by the U.S. government[19] but also by the joy and love they feel for each other.

Overall, humours and laughs had long been employed by marginalized people to create their own safe space outside of the mainstream society. It is important and essential for both community resistance and survival as well as fostering social changes and encouraging critical thinking.

Patient Advocacy as a Form of Resistance

Patient advocacy can be understood as a form of resistance against biomedical hegemony and the dominant narratives of health and illness. A common feature of the medical hegemony is the medicalization of issues “whose etiologies are more readily understood as socially constructed” [19], or rather, the labeling of societal problems as medical conditions instead of acknowledging their social roots. Through patient advocacy, individuals and communities may assert their agency within oppressive healthcare structures, address underlying environmental factors, and help implement new targeted forms of care.

Indigenous women face both gender and racial systemic oppressions when it comes to accessing substance abuse treatment, particularly when they are pregnant or parenting. Research projects have shown that the fear of punishment in this situation has resulted in women being 4 times less likely to access proper care, on top of the fact that Indigenous women face a higher threat of criminalization.[20] These fears and stigmas held by healthcare providers have Indigenous women struggling to receive the treatment they need for SUD, impacting both mothers and children alike. To combat these systematic barriers, organizations such as the Sheway Project in Vancouver, Canada have been created to meet the specific needs of pregnant or parenting Indigenous women in high-risk communities. The Sheway Project operates based off of a “women-centred, harm-reduction, culturally-focused” approach, and offers both prenatal and postnatal care (up to 18-months old) .[21] The health of the individual is assessed not only on a physical level, but on an environmental one, targeting the access of affordable housing, stable support networks, and even legal advocacy in regards to child custody and care. Statistics offered by an evaluation report of the Sheway project [22] show that 60% of the women accessing the program were Indigenous, 91% of the women had received connections to child delivery supports by the time of birth, and housing concerns among clients went from 65% to 6% after giving birth. In the same report, an interviewed client stated, "The Sheway social worker, she’s helping me through it right now, but like, if I asked my own worker, she wouldn’t have a clue where to start to help me". By offering alternative gateways for treatment that meets the specialized and complex needs of marginalized communities, progress is made on resisting the inherently colonial frameworks that hold up major healthcare systems.

Intersex advocate Cheryl Chase and her wife, Robin Mathias

Intersex individual’s face a unique challenge in healthcare due to how intimately the body is connected with social and cultural structures in society, largely impacted by cisnormative understandings of health. Intersex bodies have historically been controlled through medical means under the guise of “health concerns”, despite the majority of these decisions being rooted in the preservation of social order and norms. When people are born with biological sex markers/characteristics that violate the male-female binary, “the genital ambigu ity is remedied to conform to the ‘natural’, that is, culturally indisputable, gender dichotomy”. [23] This trend of physicians surgically changing an infants genitals to conform to cultural expectations only encourages the medicalization of gender identity. In response to this issue, an intersex activist under the pseudonym Cheryl Chase began publicly resisting invasive medical practices against intersex people through various forms of representation. She became the founder of the Intersex Society of North America (eventually becoming the notable organization known as InterACT).[24] In 1997, Chase produced the first documentary centred around the voiced lived experiences of intersex people in America, Hermaphrodites Speak!. The documentary records a 34-minute long discussion between 10 intersex people in Northern California, covering individual interactions amongst physicians who displayed oppressive power over their right to identity.[25] Chase also created and became the editor of the journal Hermaphrodites with Attitude, and published numerous commentaries in other medical journals.[26] By collectivizing underscored voices and making known the traumas faced by invasive and unwanted surgeries, common cultural narratives that are preserved via medical paternalism are challenged. As one participant in Hermaphrodites Speak! states, “I want anyone watching this, be they historians or doctors or Intersex people, whomever… I want you to know that we are just the tip of the iceberg” [25]. This also advocates for further social differentiation between sex and gender by decreasing the formal medicalization of gender identity.

Though there has been progress made in correcting hegemonic narratives and approaches to healthcare, it is always a work in progress. Newly proposed transgender legislation in Alberta, Canada have felt like a push in the wrong direction when it comes to equitable healthcare. The outlined changes include the restriction of puberty blockers for youth 15 years old and under, regardless of parental consent. [27] Psychiatrists specializing in gender diverse individuals have spoken out about the irreversible and highly distressing physical changes that transgender youth will be forced to undergo, likely leading to increased mental health complications. In addition to this, the denial of gender-affirming care directly violates the right to accessing necessary medical treatment. By restricting children and parent’s rights of choice regarding care, denial of medical treatment is essentially being carried out as form of ideological social control. In response to these proposed changes in healthcare legislation, the targeted youth of Alberta staged walkout across the province to advocate for transgender rights. One of the walkout coordinators, 17-year-old Achilles Chinery, stated to a Calgary news source, “I honestly don't how much of a difference it will make to [the premier], but I do know it will make a difference to the people who are scared and worried right now”[28] Walk-outs and public protests are ways that patient advocacy can be seen by both the perpetrators of oppression and the victims. By targeted communities banding together in the face of inequitable, inaccessible, or unethical medical treatment, sociocultural issues in healthcare may be called upon, looked at, and improved.

Media as a Form of Resistance

In their research on marginalized women who live in the Downtown Eastside community, Leslie Robertson et al. discuss how the individual perspectives of these women are rarely included in the cacophony of media depictions.[29] Although these women are highly visible in the media, their daily realities remain largely concealed. Leslie Robertson et al. introduce the concept of "remaining unseen" even though "publicly visible".[29] The women who live in the Downtown Eastside are seen in terms that are not their own and represented in ways they do not consent to. Thus, they remain "unseen." When marginalized communities exercise agency in selecting the mediums and modalities through which they wish to be portrayed, they engage in active resistance against prevailing hegemonic narratives. The deliberate pursuit of self-chosen visibility not only affirms the validity of their lived experiences, but also functions as a direct challenge to the erasure and silencing they frequently face within mainstream discourse. Ultimately, media as a form of resistance plays a pivotal role in amplifying the voices and experiences of marginalized communities, which are often overlooked and misrepresented by mainstream narratives.

In The Colonial Harem, Algerian poet and writer Malek Alloula re-examines French colonial photographs and postcards of Algerian women that did not represent Algeria and Algerian women, but rather the Frenchman’s phantasm of the Oriental female.[30] The colonial photographs were meant to provide a sense of reality—"both to situate the image and to assure the viewer of its authenticity".[31] Although Alloula argues that these postcards, produced by French colonial authorities and circulated widely, served to reinforce colonial power structures, Alloula also identifies a subversive element in these postcards, suggesting that they can also be read as sites of resistance that challenge and disrupt colonial ideologies. Alloula offers a unique opportunity to reexamine the meanings of the postcards and the French colonial project in Algeria itself, reframing the discussion around issues of visual sovereignty and "reclaiming" Algerian histories. Leighton Peterson provides a useful framework for thinking about visual sovereignty as "a powerful frame that transcends analyses of stereotypes and historical misrepresentations, privileging the meanings visual representations have for indigenous media makers (Peterson 31). Visual sovereignty often directly engages with a mediated past, "rearticulating the meanings and uses of once-colonized imagery".[32] Through acts of reinterpretation and subversion, Algerians could disrupt the colonial gaze and assert their own cultural identities and subjectivities. Alloula, for example, claims that "inaccessible" Algerian women, veiled from head to toe with only their eyes visible, were an "outright attack" on the photographers’ gaze.[33] As Alloula writes, "it must be believed that the feminine gaze that filters through the veil is a gaze of a particular kind (…) this womanly gaze is a little like the eye of a camera, like the photographic lens that aims everything (…) the photographer feels photographed; having himself become an object-to-be-seen, he loses initiative: he is dispossessed of his own gaze (…) Algerian society, threatened him in his being and prevents him from accomplishing himself as gazing gaze."[34] By appropriating and subverting the colonial gaze, Algerians could reclaim agency and challenge the power dynamics embedded within these representations. By examining these postcards through the lens of visual sovereignty, we also refuse the version of reality the photographs claim to show.

Where conventional and dominant modes of documentation are not adequate for the task, media also serves as a means of documenting social injustices. United in Anger: A History of ACT UP is a documentary directed by Jim Hubbard that chronicles the history and impact of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), a grassroots organization formed in the 1980s to advocate for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. The film serves as a powerful example of media as a tool for resistance by making visible the experiences of marginalized communities and highlighting the strategies employed by activists to challenge government inaction and societal stigma. Throughout the documentary, interviewees articulate the need to assert control over their own visual representation while concurrently resisting harmful representations by mainstream media, which frequently framed individuals with AIDS and HIV as sole victims.[35] Moreover, the documentary also documents the ACT UP activists, including those within the media sector, who collaborated in leveraging press platforms to disseminate their message. Notably, the documentary prominently features interviews with journalist and ACT UP member Ann Northrop, who not only often addressed the press on ACT UP’s behalf, but also provided insider information on how ACT UP protests could infiltrate press platforms.

Photo of Emad Burnat with his five broken cameras

Finally, film is often not considered a primary mode of resistance. However, for many filmmakers, film is a medium in which they can creatively and subtly critique and resist dominant ideologies. Cinema has always been a method of examining lived experiences with the possibility of raising understanding and inspiring change. Cinema of Resistance embraces these alternate possibilities, animated by the spirit of protest and designed to call out oppression and demand justice. Cinema, in its most profound form, serves as a vital instrument of resistance and storytelling, forging connections that transcend borders. Barry Barclay's concept of "Fourth Cinema" emerges as a framework that challenges conventional representations of marginalized groups by reclaiming voices and perspectives in filmmaking.[36] In the case of Palestinian cinema, this concept resonates deeply as it embodies a form of cultural resistance against the Israeli occupation and oppression. Palestinian filmmakers often utilize film as a medium to not only depict their lived experiences under the Israeli apartheid, but also to challenge dominant narratives imposed by the occupying forces. In this sense, Palestinian cinema can be framed within the discourse of Fourth Cinema as it serves as a platform for resistance, subverting hegemonic narratives and asserting the right to self-representation through its emphasis on decolonizing the cinematic gaze. The documentary Five Broken Cameras is an example of Palestinian resistance cinema[37]. It is a deeply personal, first-hand account of resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. The film is shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son. The film presents armed resistance in response to colonialist violence that "hijacks the apparatus of objectivity and the formulaic techniques of mass media reportage to express political views usually anathema to the dominant media."[38] Palestinian cinema transcends mere entertainment— it becomes a form of cultural resistance, confronting colonial narratives and asserting the humanity and dignity of the Palestinian people in the face of oppression. Ultimately, Media as a form of resistance makes visible the lives, struggles, and nuance of marginalized communities.

Community Care and Self-Sovereignty as a Form of Resistance

Political resistance movements require interconnected communities and kinship to stay afloat. This web of connection becomes a structure upon which individuals can begin to assert self-sovereignty and strengthen their visibility in all aspects. During the Stonewall riots and the Justice for George Floyd demonstrations, only by coming together and physically fighting back against the police did rioters manage to force those in power to finally prioritize addressing these problems. After the Stonewall riots, the Gay Liberation Front became extremely active across America, opening dozens of new chapters and hundreds of adjacent groups. These groups empowered queer people to assert self-sovereignty in bold acts of expression. These groups quickly radicalized an entire generation of young queer people through their shared experiences of oppression. After the murder of George Floyd, countless ordinary people came together as an autonomous initiative. This decentralization along with the absence of formal leadership maximized participation and minimized the social and legal "risks" of resistance in this context. [39]

Lesbians donate blood for AIDs patients through the "Blood Sisters" organization. San Diego, 1980s.

Dai Kojima describes elusive spaces of basue, where queer possibilities are differently imagined and negotiated with different logics of visibility and legibility. Through an understanding of these everyday micropolitics of movement as tactics basue becomes an important site of the negotiation of displacements associated with racism and other marginalizing forces that intersect and are felt through space and body, individually and and collectively. Basue 場末 directly translates to "a location's end", "場" meaning location or place and "末" meaning the end. These examples of mobilities and ephemeral socialities show how movements do not simply just lead to elsewhere, these basue tactics are evidence of queer methods of space-making that may not exist as ‘taking up’ a dominant space. These tactics can be makeshift and provisional and sometimes are a contingent “squatting” upon otherwise exclusionary social locations, queer or otherwise. [17] Basue serves as a form of resistance through self-sovereignty, an example of this being one of the subjects of Kojima's arcticle, a cis queer Chinese man who goes to the Richmond Night Market (a generally non-queer space) and opens the gay dating app Grindr, with the justification of "you never know".

During the late 1980s AIDS crisis, queer people came together as a collective of those at the highest risk of contracting HIV, forming many tight-nit communities. These communities shared resources and kept each-other educated. In the documentary "United in Anger", these cohorts are highlighted and labelled as affinity groups, representing various districts, regions and topics. These affinity groups would meet up and organize larger-scale events to keep each-other connected and updated on current information. Some of these affinity groups had a focus on teaching aspects of civil disobedience and protest protocol, aiding in mobilizing activists in a safe manner. In the film, there is an individual who states to a journalist what he had heard from a friend that had not been publicly available prior about the horrific status of the Bellevue Hospital, the oldest hospital in America, from the perspective of an AIDS patient at the time. This kind of information sharing comes from the interconnectedness of these affinity groups and chosen family, an experience shared by many queer people. Activists who share their stories from this time often use the pronoun "we" rather than "I" when discussing the Act Up movement, which emphasizes just how community-oriented it was. Positive connection to community has been proven to better the health of sexual minority women, as has been claimed for millennia[40]. Act Up was known to many as a family and a clan who consistently had each-others well-being in mind and this empowered individual activists to resist and fight back through community action, self-sovereignty and assuredness that they had a village to support them. [41]

Protesters march under a banner reading "YOU CAN'T PINKWASH COLONIALISM; QUEERS FOR PALESTINE" during an outdoor demonstration in London, England, on October 21, 2023.

For queer Palestinians, community is survival. Queer Palestinians have experienced a complete erasure of their identities and are treated in most discussions as if they do not exist. These citizens resist in the name of revolutionary love, which is a love that fuels their struggle for liberation and dreams of freedom, rooted in their love for their communities and their land. Queer pride for Palestinians can only come through true liberation for all, and not through the state of Israel's genocidal plot. Israel has advertised itself as the "hub of human rights in the Middle East" and within this plot, they have created a program where queer Palestinians living in the West Bank or in Gaza can apply for "asylum" in Israel and in doing so, must permanently revoke their Palestinian statehood and citizenship. This is directly a genocide of queer identified people in occupied Palestine, erasing their Palestinian identity in the name of "asylum". This idea of "asylum" is not an escape from homophobic families and communities as Israel frames it, but rather it is from the consequences that exist for queer people solely as the result of the Israel Defence Forces invasion of Palestine. [42] International feminist and queer activists standing in solidarity with Palestine are facing attacks by Zionists claiming that those who support Palestine would be “raped” and “beheaded” by Palestinians for just existing as fems and queers. Despite this, rape and death are documented to be what Zionist settlers inflict upon Palestinian women and queers, and not the other way around as portrayed by genocidal media. Many of these international activists participate in the anarchist distro scene, this scene includes grassroots activists who find alternative ways to share information, such as zines. There is advocacy by Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island for accomplices rather than allies, allyship has been called the corruption of radical spirit and the dead end of decolonization. Accomplices are not motivated by personal shame or guilt, are realized through mutual consent, build trust, and actively listen with respect for lived Indigenous experiences and histories. Accomplices do not just stand behind Indigenous folks as allies do, rather they stand at their side, ready to take on direct action. [43]

Who is allowed to Resist?

14 year old Palestinian Faris Odeh throws a stone at an Israeli tank invading his village

      As we have learned thus far, not all resistance is created equal. Perceptions of resistance are heavily influenced by both historical and contemporary factors such as racial anxiety and cultural stereotypes. Throughout history, acts of resistance carried out by colonial powers have been seen as heroic and justified, while similar actions by colonized or oppressed peoples are seen as aggressive or extreme. A prime example of this is the Palestinian genocide that is currently unfolding in the Middle East. For decades, Israeli colonial powers have invaded Palestinian towns and communities, forcibly displacing civilians and violently apprehending and arresting children and their parents. Throughout this decades long occupation, over 35,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli military, and millions more have experienced displacement and permanent disability.[4][44] On October 7th of 2023, Palestinian Militant group Hamas launched a retaliatory attack, killing 1,139 Israeli civilians.[45] Loss of life is tragic regardless of identity. It is, however, very revealing to observe the way in which Hamas’s October 7th attack has been covered by Western media. The October 7th attacks were quickly labeled as terrorism, while the same standards have never been applied to Israel’s repeated colonial invasions. This difference in portrayal of Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance owes itself to various factors, including anti-Arab racism, white supremacy, and colonialism.[2] These factors influence conflicts and political struggles across every aspect of society, and this section will describe these standards in more detail.

A Kaneyn'kehà:ka Land Defender faces off against a member of the Canadian Military in the Kanesatake Resistance.

When occupied countries rebel against their oppressors, it is often quickly labeled as Terrorism. We have seen this time and time again throughout history, Middle-Eastern governments and militant groups violently resisting colonial occupation and invasion are “Terrorists”, while the governments carrying out oppressive colonial regimes are absolved from responsibility. The acts that many groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and others carry out are indeed violent and catastrophic, but the atrocities carried out by colonial militaries should be judged just as harshly. The double standards applied to these situations have deeply colonial and racist roots. Colonized peoples have long resisted occupation in both violent and non-violent ways. In the Red River Resistance of  1869, the Northwest Resistance of 1885, the Kanesatake Resistance of 1980,[46] and many more examples across time, Indigenous resistance has been portrayed as barbaric and violent. Settlers are seen as having a “right” to the land and any resistance by Indigenous peoples is viewed as an extreme reaction. By remaining invested in these narratives of Indigenous brutality and Violence, Colonial powers foster dangerous narratives and promote racism against Indigenous peoples across the globe. The reactions that Colonial governments have had to these kinds of Indigenous resistances within North America have been similar to those that they have had when International powers resist North American Militarization. Many Middle-eastern Terrorist groups came to be out of a need to protect their countries from violent colonial occupation.[47] In fact, many key players within these groups have emphasized that the purpose of their actions is not to incite unnecessary violence, but rather to resist violence that already exists. “We don't see resisting the occupier as a terrorist action”.[48] Regardless of the intention behind these groups, their actions are met with extreme violence and force, rather than an investigation into why this kind of resistance arises in the first place. The fear that Middle Eastern terrorist organizations have spurred in North American society is extreme, and media portrayal of terrorism as primarily brown and black does nothing but fuel these narratives.[8] This fear of Middle Eastern resistance has gotten to a point where even the smallest acts of resistance are seen as violent and dangerous. Faris Odeh, a 14 year old Palestinian boy, threw a stone at an Israeli tank as it was invading his village and was shot in the head. Faris didn’t survive as first aid could not reach him in time due to fear of the tank.[49] These kinds of violent colonial displays of power would surely be labeled as terrorism if carried out by non-white peoples, but acts such as killing children like Faris are seen as defence when done by colonial powers.

Pro-trump protestors storm the Capitol on January 6th, 2021
Police violently apprehend Black Lives Matter protesters at a 2020 protest in Seattle

Similar double standards are present in Governmental responses to civil disobedience within Western societies. As far back as 1955, there are examples of extremely violent responses to the primarily nonviolent civil rights movement. In the cases of Reverend George Lee, Lamar Smith, James Chaney and countless others, we see African American civil rights organizers brutally murdered by armed white supremacists, and little to no government intervention.[50] It is made clear again and again that Indigenous, Black, and Queer people participating in resistance against settler-colonialism have no room for mistakes - if they make one wrong move or say one wrong thing, it all too often ends in violence.[51] White nationalists however, treated with extreme leniency by police forces and government bodies. In January of 2021, over 2000 heavily armed protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol. While some police officers reacted with force, many more opted for less violent methods of crowd control. When compared to the use of force employed during the BLM riots of 2020, stark contrasts arise. Another example of this suppression of domestic resistance is the ACT up movement of the late 1980s and 1990s. ACT up protesters sought to raise awareness surrounding the AIDS/HIV epidemic and inspire governments to take action while breaking down homophobic stereotypes and prejudices.[22] Though this movement was non-violent, hundreds of people were arrested over its lifetime. Excessive use of force was used by law enforcement yet again, and many protesters ended up seriously injured.[35]

These patterns of force and differing responses to resistance shed light on issues of racism and colonialism in North American Governments. North American Governments were built upon principles of violence and white Ethno-nationalism,[1] and these mentalities persist to this day. Portrayal and perception of resistance in every aspect of society is shaped by pre-existing colonial standards and stereotypes.[10] These unspoken rules inform which groups’ resistance is labeled as terrorism, and which is labeled as defence.


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