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UAL Research Online

Uncovering the Hidden Palestinian City of Jerusalem: Disrupting Power Through Art Intervention

Handal, Alexandra Sophia (2010) Uncovering the Hidden Palestinian City of Jerusalem: Disrupting Power Through Art Intervention. PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Handal, Alexandra Sophia

In 1948, Zionist forces emptied the western quarters of Jerusalem and its environs of their indigenous Arab inhabitants leading to the displacement and dispossession of an estimated 60,000 Palestinians. (Cattan, 2000 p. 45) In this practice-based thesis, I investigate the 'urbicide' of Jerusalem - a word first coined by Marshall Berman to describe the 'murder of a city'. (Berman, 1987) I focus on the areas that became known as West Jerusalem. I examine how the destruction did not halt with the ethnic cleansing in 1948, but persists as Israel continues to efface the Palestinian Arab identity from the memory of the city. Destruction in this context is not limited to rubbles, but encompasses cultural cleansing, the fragmentation of communities, the omission of Palestinians from the city's official narrative and the appropriation of place.

I use art practice and mixed-genre essays to uncover Palestinian stories of displacement, ethnic cleansing and cultural destruction. I address the marginalisation of Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jewish experiences, whose narratives disturb the 'Image' the State of Israel projects of itself. By exploring the psychogeographies of different individuals, the city emerges in Its multitude of histories and imaginations. My research methodology is performance-based, combining the unfolding of stories that emanate from my urban drifts and oral history fieldwork involving 24 Palestinian refugees and exiles, to create Interventions on the written page and through my art practice. My approach to oral history research takes Into account the storyteller-listener dynamic. This includes my own memory, as I re-tell the stories passed on to me, eventually translating them Into another narrative form, that comprises visual, oral and textual elements.

I thus provide a counter imagination of Jerusalem, one founded on the recognition of place as multifaceted, heterogeneous and In continuous progress. I sought to disrupt the dominant Zionist narrative In order to dismantle the 'empty space' imagining tied to colonialism and militarism. I drew on a broad-range of discourses and fields such as geography, feminism, history of cartography, mapping and psychogeography, contemporary art, visual culture, post/colonialism, literature, nationalism, history, politics, auto/biography, architecture and urban studies. This interdisciplinary research includes an analysis of three Israeli commemoration plaques, the examination of Israeli real estate websites featuring 'Arab-style' homes, the study of three contrasting narratives of displacement, a short film based on the Palestinian artist's stay at an Israeli occupied house converted into a bed and breakfast, a web-based artwork which Is a real and imagined estate agency and a series of photographs based on the artist's drifts.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

This thesis is restricted by request of the author. Please contact UAL Research Online for more information.

Your affiliations with UAL: Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date: February 2010
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2020 15:40
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2024 16:37
Item ID: 15586
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/15586

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