Paul Kohlbry

Postdoctoral Associate


I am an anthropologist who studies agrarian life. My research brings together critical agrarian studies, political ecology, and legal anthropology. In my current book project, I explore the struggles of rural Palestinians against settler colonial dispossession and the dissolution of peasant agriculture. I study how people in the highlands of Palestine combine cooperation, mutual aid, and private ownership into a theory and practice of anti-colonial commoning. The book engages with marginalized traditions of agrarian anti-colonialism and vernacular critiques of privatization to consider why ownership is inseparable from hopes for a good life in rural places today.

My next research project is a multi-sited ethnography of date farming across the arid zones of California, Palestine, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates. I will study how date farms in these regions are connected by imperial war, market competition, and concerns over climate change. I am interested in the sorts of investments—economic, technological, and political—that go into making large-scale commercial agriculture sustainable and desirable in places facing ecological collapse.

My research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Palestinian American Research Center, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. I received my PhD from the Johns Hopkins University in 2019. Prior to Cornell, I held postdoctoral positions at Brown University and the University of Chicago.  



Journal Articles

"Agrarian Annihilation." Agrarian Conversations. January 12, 2024.

"Titling in the Ruins: Progress, Deferral, and Nonsovereign Property." Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 43.3 (2023): 262-274.

“Introduction: Claiming Property, Claiming Palestine.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 43.3 (2023): 245-48 (with Beshara Doumani).

"Selling Rural Palestine: Land devaluation, Ethical Investment, and the Limits of Human Rights." Antipode 55.3 (2023): 897-915.

"To Cover the Land in Green: Rain-fed Agriculture and Anti-colonial Land Reclamation in Palestine." The Journal of Peasant Studies 50.7 (2023): 2666-2684.

"Palestinian Counter‐forensics and the Cruel Paradox of Property." American Ethnologist 49.3 (2022): 374-386.

"Owning the Homeland: Property, Markets, and Land Defense in the West Bank." Journal of Palestine Studies 47.4 (2018): 30-45.


ANTHR Courses - Spring 2024

ANTHR Courses - Fall 2024