When Liminals Interact: EU-Hamas Relations

Michelle Pace, Polly Pallister-Wilkins

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This article engages with the concept of liminality by focusing on two, theoretically and empirically dubious categories: the EU and Hamas. Theoretically, both are in-between the traditional categories we use to make sense of the world and as such they challenge state-based, Westphalian, Eurocentric categories that dominate International Relations (IR). By analysing Hamas and the EU as liminals this article demonstrates how far certain collective discourses and non-state identities can go in challenging pre-existing categories on which the social order of international relations relies. Hamas does not ‘fit’ into pre-existing social categories of the social order in world politics. The EU does not fit into the system of states in international relations, although it attempts, in part, to behave like one at a supranational level. Empirically, both the EU and Hamas are able to exercise power to differing degrees depending on context. Both engage in politics on a procedural, day-to-day level that has significant consequences for their knowledge of themselves and the Other. This article explores how the liminal identity of these two actors impacts on their relations with each other and importantly their relations of Self. In exploring the procedural relations of the EU and Hamas it argues for the necessity of recognising liminal categories in IR theory and practice while at the same time highlighting the limits of such in-between categories in a world order still structured around the state.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventACCESS Europe workshop: The European Union and the Arab Spring: Constructions of Security in the Southern Mediterranean - University of Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 13 Nov 201414 Nov 2014


WorkshopACCESS Europe workshop
LocationUniversity of Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum
Internet address


  • liminality
  • European Union
  • Hamas
  • identity politics
  • International Relations
  • security
  • political movements
  • Arab countries

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