This article considers the work of Hannah Arendt and Ghassan Kanafani in relation to the social and juridical logic and form of the settler colony and of the settler-colonial logic and form of the Israeli state and its ideology, Zionism. The argument is framed in relation to two moments: (1) the notion and practice of Bildung—education, training, formation—where the subject of language, in becoming literate, thoughtful, and self-reflective, is to become a being that recognizes itself and others in these and related terms: as legible, autonomous, and self-determining; and (2) the ongoing debates around the politics of death, articulated through the writing of Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Carl Schmitt, Achille Mbembe, and Arendt. The article argues that, insofar as they presume an understanding of Bildung as a principal category of social thought, these debates reiterate the terms they claim to diagnose or contest. It also argues that, in their affective relation to decolonization, Arendt—and Foucault and Agamben—conjures and advances a social panic in a desire to domesticate the destabilizing force of anticolonial struggle. Finally, the article reads Kanafani’s Rijāl fī al-shams (Men in the Sun) to argue that Kanafani’s novelistic practice discombobulates the terms privileged in the settler colony and in its social and literary logic and form, as it promises a nonredemptive, anomic, and non-state-centric futurity.

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