The speculative native: Art and complicity in the settler colony
(National University of Singapore)
Paper short abstract:
I consider the refiguration of nativism within contemporary Palestinian art. Animating these artworks are "everyday things" whose most striking feature is an unambiguous complicity with a settler colony. I trace this process of refiguration as an experimentation in settler colonial subjectivity.
Paper long abstract:
Historically, nativism has assumed different modes within Palestine, serving both as a source of legitimation of distinctive cultural identity within greater Syria in the early 20th century to its role within a national movement set against a settler colonial project in the wake of 1948. Alongside and informing such modes of nativism, Palestinian art, often employed as the handmaiden of these cultural and national agendas and narratives, frequently evinced the native within the figures of the fellaheen and the land/scape itself. In this paper I consider the refiguration of nativism within contemporary Palestinian art. Being articulated in these contemporary art practices is a mode of nativism no longer tethered and bound to narratives of cultural and national identity. Rather, animating these works of art are a succession of evocative "everyday things" whose most striking feature is an unambiguous complicity with a settler colony. Unlike the primordial artefacts of the nativist that can easily be slotted into various cultural and national agendas, these artworks are improvisations of the native that have not been formally narrativized. As such, they call to us, asking us to take notice but do not provide a script. I follow a number of artworks to map out these movements between these everyday things and their remediation as/within art as a process of refiguring the native within the settler colony. They invite, I argue, the refiguring of nativism through an experimentation in settler colonial subjectivity: the speculative native.
Art and nativism [Anthropology and the Arts Network]