Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Art History/Architecture, Northwestern University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture, Northwestern University
"We Are All Fedayeen": Palestinian National Identity and the Image Archive, 1967-1982

Spanning the revolutionary period of 1967 to 1982, this dissertation analyzes the efforts of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to produce, institutionalize, and disseminate a new visual culture through photography, film, and print-based media. I argue that these efforts had two primary goals: 1) imagistic transformation and consolidation, and 2) archival preservation and dissemination. The PLO sought the aesthetic and ideological reformulation of the Palestinian people from generic Arab refugees to nationalist revolutionaries (fedayeen), while also instantiating an official system and methodology to document this history-in-progress and ensure its availability for the future Palestinian nation-state. The dissertation begins with a close examination of the PLO's illustrated publications to ascertain its new visual language, before turning to how this institutional standard was interpreted and adapted in three case studies of exemplary symbols of the revolution: the commemoration in posters of the 1968 Battle of Karameh as historically significant event (ch. two), the representation of fedayeen camps in film as an alternative national and civic space (ch. three), and the photojournalistic production of Leila Khaled as a fraught icon of Palestinian heroism (ch. four). These chapters contest a politically operationalized interpretation of this imagery that results in its a priori dismissal as superficial propaganda, at which point the dissertation turns to an analysis of contemporary Palestinian art and its archival preoccupations in order to offer a final, recuperative gesture toward this period's elided but dynamic visual culture. The study concludes by arguing that there is an overlooked historical continuity of Palestinian aesthetic and conceptual practice, a mutual approach to memory, representation, and the nation that critically links the cultural workers of Palestine's revolutionary past with their artist-researcher counterparts in the present.