Accepted Paper:

Politics of (im)mobility and possible futures: a geographic perspective on cultural production at the Palestinian Museum  
Silvia Hassouna (Aberystwyth University)

Paper short abstract:

The Palestinian Museum operates to affirm a national Palestinian identity that transcends its assigned territorial space and status. This paper brings together a geographic perspective with the critical study of museums in anthropology to examine material practices at the 'post-territorial museum'.

Paper long abstract:

The Palestinian Museum at Birzeit operates to affirm a national Palestinian identity that transcends its assigned territorial space and status. This paper brings together a geographic perspective with the critical study of museums to examine the museum as an institution/technology that legitimates its holdings, collections, and activities as 'national'.

While the Palestinian Museum plays a critical role in the process of re-signification of the landscape, it has also emphasized its independence from territorial boundaries as a 'post-territorial museum'. The tension between a non-territorial foundation and national-institutional ambitions generates a space of ambiguity. Political geography has identified the friction between processes of denationalisation vis-à-vis territorial perspectives. Thus, drawing on contributions brought by geographers to the concepts of materiality and relationality, this paper will look at the museum's cultural production and material practices.

The museum's work is embedded in everyday aspects of occupation that limit accessibility and place an array of mundane constraints on its activities (e.g. visitation, access to expertise, sustainability). How is relation between the politics of (im)mobility and the museum's "borderless ambitions" evident in its representations?

The museum is a space for political and cultural imagination of possible futures linked to a nation-building process. Drawing on De Cesari's theorisation of Palestinian art projects as incorporated in anticipatory action and prefigurative politics, what alternative futures originate in the Palestinian Museum? How can a focus on "modes of future-oriented temporalities" (McConnell, 2016) contribute to the study of stateless museums?

Panel P045
From Palestine Out: Art and the Political Imagination