The conflict in Palestine has been the subject of numerous international investigative commissions over the past century. These have been dispatched by governments to determine the causes of violent conflicts and how to resolve them. Commissions both produce and reflect political epistemologies, the social processes and categories by which proof and evidence are produced and mobilized in political claim-making. Using archival and ethnographic sources, my analysis focuses on three investigative commissions: the King-Crane (1919), Anglo-American (1946), and Mitchell (2001) commissions. They reveal how “reading affect” has been a diagnostic of political worthiness. Through these investigations, Western colonial agents and “the international community” have given Palestinians false hope that discourse and reason were the appropriate and effective mode of politics. Rather than simply reason, however, what each required was maintenance of an impossible balance between the rational and the emotional. This essay explores the ways that affect as a diagnostic of political worthiness has worked as a technology of rule in imperial orders, and has served as an unspoken legitimating mechanism of domination.
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