The right of a people to represent themselves has been a key concern for anti-colonial and anti-racist movements. “If imperialist domination has the vital need to practice cultural oppression,” as Amilcar Cabral has highlighted, “national liberation is necessarily an act of culture” (1970). For Palestine, the attempt to erase and diminish Palestinian culture and history was carried out systematically by the Zionist regime, who sought to either destroy or appropriate Palestinian culture and heritage. As Theodore Herzl stated: “If I wish to substitute a new building for an old one, I must demolish before I construct” (1941:38). The 1948 Nakba not only saw the expulsion of 700 000 Palestinians from their lands but also the confiscation of both public and private libraries and cultural collections—one example of this is documented in The Great Book Robbery that traces the theft of both private and public Palestinian libraries by the Israeli government.
As Memmi pointed out in his seminal text The Coloniser and the Colonised, one effect of colonisation is the elimination of the colonised’s culture (1974). Settler colonialism as Patrick Wolfe has noted “destroys in order to replace” as such the struggle against colonialism involves both the retrieval of lost histories as well as the development of new and vibrant indigenous cultures (2006:388). The struggle to maintain and develop a cinematic culture in and for Palestine has been an inherent part of the struggle for Palestinian national liberation. This research will trace the struggle to retrieve and develop a cinematic culture in Palestine and for Palestinians, exploring the achievements as well as the difficulties and barriers that have been experienced through this process.
Strand 4 does not aim to produce a history of Palestinian cinema but will investigate the ways in which filmmakers have struggled to use cinema to speak of Palestinian experience and how the barriers to creating such cinema have been creatively overcome. We will consider how creative practitioners have sought support for cinematic projects and how they have negotiated institutional and financial support systems in order to speak, both in Palestine and abroad. The establishment and running of Palestine Film Festivals and their role in providing a forum for critical appreciation and analysis, forms part of the research too.
Cabral, A. (1970) History is a weapon: National liberation and culture. Speech at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, 20 Feb.
Herzl, T. (1941) Old New Land, trans. Lotta Levensohn. Haifa.
Wolfe, P. (2006) Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native. Journal of Genocide Research, 8(4), pp.387-409.