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Hugh Williamson (2019)

Research Title: Planning for the Future: Inhabiting and making inhabitable a new Palestinian City

Supervisor: Professor James Laidaw


Hugh Williamson's research focuses on the newly constructed city of Rawabi, a planned urban development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The city currently houses an estimated 3,000 Palestinian residents, who are members of a burgeoning capitalist class mobilising around the city of Ramallah 9km to the South. The city is emerging as a popular tourist attraction for Palestinians across the West Bank and is playing an important role in Palestinian's engagements with the tech economy and digital entrepeurship.
Hugh's dissertation hopes to contribute toward anthropological engagements with ethics through a study of aspiration and anxiety among Palestinian interlocutors seeking to build a life and community in the new city.  Analysing how futures are imagined and strived for, collectively and individually, will offer a window into the relationship between material spaces, economic forces and competing conceptions of valuable Palestinian lives in the context of a worsening Israeli Occupation. 
Hugh received his MSc (Distinction) in 2017 from the department of Social Anthropology in Oxford University. Following this, he worked as an english language teacher in the city of Al Khalil (Hebron) and as a Programme Support Assistant with the UNRWA in Jerusalem.

Research Interests

The anthropology of ethics; social psychology; aspiration; anxiety; space and emplacement; human geography; political economy; colonialism and neo-colonialism.