Middle East Section
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: In her film In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain, Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour imagines a dystopic future in which she poses as a rebel leader or “narrative terrorist” who buries porcelain for future archaeologists to discover, an attempt at countering the narrative advantage of an unnamed state to establish a new narrative on behalf of her people. Taking inspiration from the protagonist’s brazen attempt to disrupt dominant narratives of a dystopic present, this panel asks how Palestinian futures (utopic or dystopic) might be reimagined in the changing political climate of the “post-Oslo” landscape.
How are Palestinians seeking to enact freedom and decolonization in modes or spaces that extend beyond the nationalist project as traditionally conceived? Alternatively, how do Palestinians accommodate or seek recognition from the colonial regime, and to what ends? What forms does sovereignty (or non-sovereignty) take in the absence of statehood or its impossibility within an ongoing settler colonial regime? Finally, how do Palestinian histories or imagined futures shape the cultural, social, and political claims of the present? This panel attempts to critically examine the post-Oslo political moment, thinking past the impasse of hegemonic “state-building” and “peace process” narratives and imagining Palestinian futures otherwise.
The panel begins with an exploration of what Hadeel Assali calls indigenous “subterranean knowledge” in a journey through Gaza’s tunnels, as a form of decolonizing knowledge of the surface and depth of Palestinian land. From below ground, we move to construction, housing and urban development, where Kareem Rabie analyzes relationships between the built environment of Palestine and the way futures are imagined and constructed. The panel turns from physical territory to the territory of the body, where Ashjan Ajour explores the making and unmaking of “homeland” through the corporeal experiences of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons.
From those living in occupied Palestinian territory, we shift to the experiences of Palestinian citizens of Israel, where Nadeem Karkabi examines the possibilities and limitations of cultural politics as a form of resistance. Next, the panel turns to the political possibilities forged in the U.S.-based Palestinian diaspora, through Dina Omar’s ethnography of Palestinian institution building, drawing on the case study of the Palestine Museum-U.S. Finally, Amanda Batarseh analyzes challenges posed by Palestinian and Israeli artistic production to hegemonic national teleologies; she offers the framework of “untelling” of the nation as a critical lens for exploring what it means to narrate the spectre of nationhood in contemporary Palestinian narrative practices.