Becoming Palestine: Toward an Archival Imagination of the Future

Becoming Palestine: Toward an Archival Imagination of the Future

Gil Hochberg

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In Becoming Palestine, Gil Z. Hochberg examines how contemporary Palestinian artists, filmmakers, dancers, and activists use the archive in order to radically imagine Palestine's future. She shows how artists such as Jumana Manna, Kamal Aljafari, Larissa Sansour, Farah Saleh, Basel Abbas, and Ruanne Abou-Rahme reimagine the archive, approaching it not through the desire to unearth hidden knowledge, but to sever the identification of the archive with the past. In their use of archaeology, musical traditions, and archival film and cinematic footage, these artists imagine a Palestinian future unbounded from colonial space and time. By urging readers to think about archives as a break from history rather than as history's repository, Hochberg presents a fundamental reconceptualization of the archive's liberatory potential.


Becoming Palestine offers a treasure of insights, challenging the reader to keep up with the radically new temporalities and aesthetic forms in which archives are being called upon to carve out a new Palestine, to imagine what its political space might look and feel like. Here archives have become the active sites for conceptualizing alternative futures. Moving with deft nuance through projects realized in video art, dance, essay-film, and performance, Gil Z. Hochberg provides perceptive witness to artistic interventions with ‘phantasmal power’ to reclaim space for these political visions in the making.” -- Ann Laura Stoler, author of ― Duress: Imperial Durabilities in Our Times

“Appearing at a time when interest in Palestinian imaginative culture is higher than it has ever been, 
Becoming Palestine is a highly original and illuminating study of recent Palestinian creative works unlike any that has been published thus far. It will attract scholars of Israel and Palestine, Palestinian culture, and modern Arab and Middle Eastern art and cinema, and I expect it to be widely read by curators and practitioners throughout the world who work on art that engages with archives and politics.” -- Nadia Yaqub, author of ― Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution

Becoming Palestine is a most interesting contribution to studies about the Palestinian resistance against the settler colony, under which they have lived since 1948. Gil Z. Hochberg adds a radical analysis of the imaginative creations of young artists in the twenty-first century. It would be an eye-opener to students and scholars of dance and the performing arts, and Middle East, international politics, and cultural studies.” ― Arab Studies Quarterly

“In this book, Hochberg makes a power­ful contribution to the important and grow­ing field of critical Palestine Studies that complicates and questions assumptions about a Palestine presented in mainstream politics as a depoliticized space devoid of the reality of occupation and settler colo­nialism.” -- Dina Matar ― 
Middle East Journal

“The abiding contribution of 
Becoming Palestine is how it extends awareness of some particularly provocative and politically acute art. This book conducts careful, detailed labour throughout, explaining works that have existed almost exclusively within the time-limited confines of metropolitan art museums and art-film festivals.” -- Kay Dickinson ― Screen

About the Author

Gil Z. Hochberg is Ransford Professor of Hebrew, Comparative Literature, and Middle East Studies at Columbia University and author of Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, also published by Duke University Press, and In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination.

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