Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of California / Los Angeles

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture, University of California / Los Angeles
Into the “Shadow Archives” of Palestinian Art: Modernism and Alternative Modes of Political Engagement

In the 1960s and 1970s, Palestine emerged as a cultural object across the decolonizing world. It became a symbol or metaphor associated with a broad discourse of resistance to colonialism and its legacies; artists, activists, and intellectuals turned to Palestine not only as a captivating crucible of anticolonial ferment, but also as a powerful rhetorical tool for political critique and cultural rejuvenation. As the figure of Palestine acquired international implications, however, Palestinian nationalism crystallized in the very material form of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (est. 1964). Through its arts apparatuses, the PLO negotiated multiple interpretations of Palestinian national culture, simultaneously encouraging the image of Palestine as the cradle of all revolution and a visual regime that stressed its historical specificity. My dissertation will revisit this moment as a multifaceted point of departure from which "modern Palestinian art" can be seen to develop in the second half of the twentieth century. It will look to the role of the PLO in defining this art, and to the ways in which visual culture produced a transnationally emblematic Palestine. In particular, it will consider the group of artists most closely affiliated with the PLO's Department of Arts and National Culture, looking at their work in relationship to contemporary discourses of legibility, heritage, and cultural appropriation. Additionally, it will explore artwork created on the periphery of official institutions, looking to its performance of a global, multidirectional, trans-temporal relay between Palestinian social realities and European modernist aesthetics. Ultimately, my project seeks to broaden conceptual and geographical frameworks that have tended to parochialize the study of Palestinian art, and to demonstrate the interdependence of Palestinian visual culture and diverse discourses within Cold War-era Europe and the decolonizing Third World.