Adey Almohsen

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Adey Almohsen is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

On the Palestinian Question: Cultures and Performances of Nationalism between Hegemony and Contestation.

"Interpretations of Palestinian history and identity have been hampered by the domination of a set of narratives which fail to demonstrate the diverse, contingent nature of Palestinian identity. Such plurality is further undermined when historical writing sidesteps elements of the aesthetic and the quotidian, which complicate politics and contest its perceived hegemony. Thus, my historical-theoretical project strives to bring to light the cultural and performative diversity of Palestine, Palestinians, and their identity.

Explicitly, my goal is to rethink Palestinian identity by studying its various expressions and performances as they unfolded in the cultural and political space of 1967-71 Jordan. For me, the years that preceded and followed the 1967 War constitute an especially radical epoch in the cultural and political histories of Palestinian identity. Here, I cover battles over Palestinian subjectivities as well as efforts to constitute discourses of Palestinian identity between communists, secular nationalists, Baathists, and independents in canvases, posters, letters, and manuscripts. Ultimately, my work goes beyond political aspects of Palestinian identity to cover its literary and artistic manifestations. Such a turning of the historical lens towards aesthetics, culture, and everyday life is crucial to make sense of the multifariousness of Palestinian identity and to appreciate its mundane displays.

As much as my project builds on social and political histories of Palestinian identity, it overcomes their shortcomings by embracing an interdisciplinary perspective that merges historical research with cultural analysis. My objective is then to produce a history of Palestinian identity which accounts for the broad spectrum of Palestinian national existence and the multitude of Palestinian cultural activities. In the final analysis, rather than conceptualising Palestinian identity under tropes or monosemes, I shall reveal how the development of this identity was an historically contingent process beset by a congregation of conflicting ideas, mediological twists-and-turns, and aesthetic manoeuvres."

-Adey Almohsen, 2016