Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Middle East Studies

Reader 1

Heather Ferguson

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"How the Holy Land Violates Us: Unsilencing a Queer Mandaean" explores how rigid and restrictive categorizations inform "the Holy Land" through a collage of personal stories, poetry, and reflections. From the perspective of a queer Mandaean who lived in “the Holy Land” for one year, the author navigates “hybridities,” where they simultaneously are violently categorized and exist outside normative constructed boxes. Thus, this work offers an alternative framework to think about “the Holy Land,” which pushes against the black and white mentality, i.e., “Jew or Arab,” prominent both on the ground and internationally. Merely the naming of the region as “the Holy Land,” instead of only Israel, Palestine, Palestine-Israel, Israel-Palestine, etc., is an act of not reinforcing more categorizations on the region and also reclaiming (often sarcastically) a historically charged phrase for the author’s personal, sacred pilgrimage and heritage as a Mandaean. Overall, some of the categories questioned are: geography, religion, gender, queerness, security, borders, boundaries, countries, mobility, language, race, ethnicity, traditions, customs, nomadic, settled, mental health, trauma, diaspora, and refugeeism. These categories do not define many people’s lived experiences, even combined together, but do offer different ways of thinking of hybridity, where all these categories are related to each other, and there is “grayness” within each category. The thesis itself transcends disciplinary boundaries – although mainly an autoethnography, it also draws from history, creative writing, political science, ethnic studies, and queer studies. Above all, this artwork is part of a healing and yet re-traumatizing process, while the world is simultaneously bearing witness to the ongoing genocide and atrocities in “the Holy Land” (as of April 22nd, 2024). The author recollects various connections, interactions, and experiences on the land, while also having a deep, personal relationship with the land that is silenced, devalidated, and assumed. Concluding by bringing in other voices that also exist in the “gray” and/or hybridities, the author un-silences both themselves and others in “the Holy Land,” who do not fit in the simple boxes often perpetuated by colonialisms, violence, oppression, and extreme masculinization.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.