Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper explores how Palestinian musicians use music videos to push back on Israel’s settler-colonial attempts to ‘pinkwash’ the occupation. I first set up how Israel’s PR-machinery circulates imagery in which the settler-state’s supposedly ‘tolerant’ attitudes to sexual and gender diversity are projected outward to the global stage. As many have argued, such representations erect smokescreens around Israel’s settler-colonial practices, and contribute to the state’s nationalistic efforts to frame Palestinian society as inherently patriarchal and homophobic. These pictorial media habitats thus render Palestinian queers at an aporia: as ‘victims’ who must renounce their Palestinianness by seeking queer salvation in ‘gay friendly’ Israel, or as Palestinian ‘terrorists’ for whom the possibility of inhabiting non-normative sexualities as Palestinian is denied. Against this backdrop, Palestinian musicians create and circulate music videos in which transgressive gender and sexuality norms are foreground. Through dress, dance, lyrics, and other aesthetic significations on screen, these young actors challenge neo and settler-colonial representations of queer and/or female Palestinian bodies as abject in the Palestinian collective imagination. With their music videos they instead insert gender performances into wider publics that question and play with dominant gender tropes of, for instance, heterosexual marriage and gender-specific fashion.
This highlights two things. First, that gender and sexuality politics are immanent to Israel’s racialised and racist settler-colonial project. And second, that cultural production offers entry points to situate the many creative ways Palestinian youth use visual forms to upend Israel’s ‘pinkwashing’ attempts to erase their hyphenated Palestinian-queer and/or Palestinian-feminist subjectivities from occupied Palestine.