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This discussion between Hanan Toukan and Himmat Zoubi moderated by Judith Naeff will look into the entanglement of art and cultural practices, international politics, and neoliberal cultural capital in the context of Palestine and the Palestinians. The talk will center around the question of the possibilities and limitations of subversive and dissonant practices that are animated by global market economies that reach well into the urban sites of colonial subjugation and anti-colonial resistance, shaping aesthetical and cultural discourses around each. Highlighting the two different, yet also interrelated, Palestinian contexts of the 1967 Occupied Territories and of the 48-Palestinians, the speakers will grapple with how artists and activists from those contexts navigate the global and more localized challenges they ultimately must confront.
About the speakers
Hanan Toukan is Professor of Middle East Studies at Bard College Berlin and a Fellow at the Europe in the Middle East-Middle East in Europe (EUME) research program at the Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien. Her teaching and writings sit at the intersection of international politics, Middle East politics, postcolonial studies, visual cultures and cultural studies. Prior to joining Bard College Berlin, Toukan was Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at Brown University and Visiting Professor of Cultural Studies of the Middle East at Bamberg University. She has also taught at Freie Universität Berlin and SOAS, University of London in Media and Film Studies, as well as Politics and International Studies. Her book The Politics of Art: Dissent and Cultural Diplomacy in Palestine Lebanon and Jordan (2021) is published with Stanford University Press.
Himmat Zoubi is a Palestinian researcher and feminist activist and received her PhD in Sociology from Ben-Gurion University. Her work focuses on cities in colonial contexts, gender, memory and oral history, indigenous knowledge and resistance. Alongside her current project, “Re-urbanizing Palestine, Cultural Spaces and Palestinian Urbanity”, Zoubi is working on her book project “De-Urbanizing Palestine: Transforming Hayfa with Haifa (1948-1953)” about replacing Hayfa (the term Hayfa is used to distinguish between pre-1948 Hayfa and post-occupation Haifa) with Haifa during a transition period between the colonial British Mandate and the Israeli State. It analyzes the making of the Israeli “mixed cities” in the state building era, and the consequent changes to the city’s urban and social sphere. The book explores the everyday resistance of the remaining urban Palestinians the mutabaqqun to scrutinize the changes that took place in Hayfa at large. Zoubi is a postdoctoral fellow of The International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-Strategies (IRGAC) at Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, associated with The Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the Freie Universität and EUME..
Judith Naeff is Assistant Professor Cultures of the Middle East at Leiden University with a main interest in contemporary Arabic visual culture and literature. She has worked mainly on cities & urban imaginaries and memory & temporality. Naeff investigates generational dialogues about the legacies and memories of labour, student and communist movements in the Arab world. The research focuses in particular on video and installation art by young makers born in the 1980s that address the generation of their parents and the events that took place in the 1970s. The monograph "Precarious Imaginaries of Beirut: A City's Suspended Now" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018) explores a shared experience of time and space in contemporary Beirut (1990-2015) and the ways in which this experience has been given meaning in works of literature, arts and culture.