Paul Kohlbry (he/him) received his PhD in Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University in 2019. From 2019-2021, he was the Palestinian Studies Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University. His research draws on the anthropology of law, economy, and environment to explore the ways people repurpose the very forces that marginalize and destroy them to rebuild social worlds and insurgent political projects.
Paul’s book project, Plots and Deeds: Property and the Making of the Palestinian Land Question, tells the story of Palestinian land defense in the West Bank, from the 1967 occupation to the present day. Plots and Deeds explains why private property ownership became foundational for land defense and how Palestinians use ownership claims to register historical presence, construct community, and bring together class and political aspirations. It draws on several years of archival and ethnographic fieldwork in the West Bank, Israel, and Jordan with surveyors, farmers, developers, and lawyers who have tried, in different ways, to turn the shared problem of ownership into collective territorial projects. It shows that anti-colonial land politics emerge not only in relation to direct forms of coercion and violence, but also through the dispersed, abstract powers of global markets and liberal rights.
At the University of Chicago, Paul will teach courses on property and human rights, and on the relationship between Indigenous politics, law, and capitalism.