Landscape/Palestine: Conceptual Inventions in the Settler Colony

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Kiven STROHM, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Landscapes are the dominant trope within the Palestinian imagination. From village narratives to art and music, they are at the center of the struggle against dispossession and colonization, a central theme of resistance to exile and erasure. As a place of return, landscapes are the site of memory, sensation, belonging, of being Palestinian. A multiplicity of single impression. Over the last couple years, along with a group of artists, farmers, activists, and community members, I have been working on a collaborative project around the theme of the landscape within the Palestinian imaginary, with a focus on those Palestinians returning to their lands. The project began with the aim of providing viewers an experience of being in the landscape, of feeling touching, smelling, hearing, tasting the place from which they have been exiled. For Palestinians living in exile and unable to return, this sensory attunement would permit an otherwise impossible experience. Over the course of our discussions, this phenomenological and multisensory approach has, however, given way to a more radically oriented concern with the landscape itself as material object. There was a resounding disquiet that a sensory approach left the landscape an inert and passive object when, it was asserted, landscape is actually emergent, a “thing” itself. The question I wish to pose in this paper is the two-fold: One, how can landscape become an empirical source of conceptualization (including its own conceptualization), which is to say, how do we attend to the ways in which the landscape invents what we are able to say and do around it?; Two, what might a visual ethnography of such a landscape look like? To this last question I provide a filmic experiment that is attuned to scenes in which the landscape invents a set of conceptual possibilities for living in a settler colony.