Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In 2012, DAM received funding from UN Women to produce a video song contesting violence against women in Palestinian society. The song sparked a wider discussion about the politics and ethics of speaking about honor-based violence in national and transnational contexts. In this presentation, I offer a close reading of DAM’s video and its local and transnational receptions. I explore how the song became placed and later circulated within a laden political context that specturalizes, exceptionalizes and culturalizes honor related violence. This context, as the mixed receptions of the song reveals, exceeds in its power the justice-oriented intentions of the song’s makers. While focusing on the specifics of the Palestinian context and the conditions of settler colonialism and occupation that structure the phenomenon of gendered and sexual violence in Palestine, this paper also explores how local actors utilize transnational circuits of funding, promotion, and production intimately tied to the aid and development context of life in Palestine. Rather than rehash the by now familiar terms of the debate in which this song became deeply imbricated or over-simplify the complex arguments and positions over the song, I explore what its narrow (and narrowing) contours can reveal about the ways in which gendered and sexual violence are narrated, consumed, and confronted in and across settler colonial geographies where aid works to govern people’s realities, shape their subjectivities, and structure their activism.