Skip to main content


My Brother, My Land: A Story from Palestine

General Programming

dateMarch 4, 2024 timeMonday, 6:00pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Center for Palestine Studies
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required.
Cover of My Brother, My Land

Join the Center for Palestine Studies and the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities for a talk by Sami Hermez and Sireen Sawalha about My Brother, My Land: A Story from Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2024). Opening remarks by Nadia Abu El Haj.

IN 1967, Sireen Sawalha's mother, with her young children, walked back to Palestine against the traffic of exile. My Brother, My Land is the story of Sireen's family in the decades that followed and their lives in the Palestinian village of Kufr Ra'i. From Sireen's early life growing up in the shadow of the '67 War and her family's work as farmers caring for their land, to the involvement of her brother Iyad in armed resistance in the First and Second Intifada, Sami Hermez, with Sireen Sawalha, crafts a rich story of intertwining voices, mixing genres of oral history, memoir, and creative nonfiction. Through the lives of the Sawalha family, and the story of Iyad's involvement in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hermez confronts readers with the politics and complexities of armed resistance and the ethical tensions and contradictions that arise, as well as with the dispossession and suffocation of people living under occupation and their ordinary lives in such times. Whether this story leaves readers discomforted, angry, or empowered, they will certainly emerge with a deeper understanding of the Palestinian predicament.


Sami Hermez is director of the Liberal Arts Program and associate professor of anthropology at Northwestern University in Qatar. He obtained his doctorate degree from the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. He is the author of War is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon (UPenn 2017), which focuses on the everyday life of political violence in Lebanon and how people recollect and anticipate this violence, and My Brother, My Land: A Story from Palestine (Stanford 2024), that tells the story of a Palestinian family resisting ongoing Israeli settler colonialism. His broader research concerns include the study of social movements, the state, the future, memory, violence, and critical security in the Arab World. He has held posts as a visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, University of Pittsburgh’s Visiting Professor of Contemporary International Issues, a visiting professor of anthropology at Mt. Holyoke College, and a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Lebanese Studies, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University.

Sireen Sawalha, born in the small village of Kufr Rai in Jenin, Palestine, comes from a family deeply connected to the region's rich history. She moved to the US in 1990 and completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Rider University. Recognized by Cornell University for her outstanding contributions to education in 2022, Sireen serves as a social studies teacher in New Jersey. Beyond academia, she is a passionate chef and compelling storyteller, sharing her family's experiences under occupation. Sireen raises awareness about Palestinian culture and actively contributes to the struggle for Palestinian freedom. My Brother, My Land is the story of her family.