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Anthropology and Humanism

Willful Overlooking: Stories from the Islamic Diaspora and the Palestinian West Bank

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SUMMARY

This article tells a series of stories that speak to the importance of the human capacity of willful overlooking. When we exercise willful overlooking in our interactions with others, we may allow a potentially fracturing moment to pass, an uncomfortable situation to be tolerated, or an opportunity to present itself. Willful overlooking is exercised in our friendships and romances, our bureaucratic and public exchanges, and in many other social encounters. The paper draws on two sets of events, my former village research assistant's wedding in Canada (2007) and my fieldwork (1995–96) in his village of Artas in the Palestinian West Bank.

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