online - talk
Cultural Heritage and Genocide in Gaza
Dr. Mezna Qato (Librarians and Archivists with Palestine) in Conversation with Khaled Al-Bashir

Tuesday 23 April 2024 | 6:30 PM | Online

The destruction of cultural heritage in Gaza is an attack against the collective identity of the Palestinian people, it irrevocably denies them their history, and violates their sovereignty. Last February, Librarians and Archivists with Palestine issued a report highlighting a list of archives, libraries, and museums in Gaza that have been destroyed, damaged, or looted by Israeli armed forces since October 7, 2023. The report brings focus on libraries, archives, and museums as sites of knowledge, community spaces, and repositories of cultural heritage. Irreplaceable historic materials have been lost in the destruction of institutions such as the Central Archives of Gaza City and the Rafah Museum. Moreover, archivists and librarians have been repeatedly displaced, injured, or killed, making it even more difficult to take stock of the damage to cultural heritage. 

This talk underscores the findings of a recently published report, focusing on the repercussions of the destruction and erasure of heritage and culture in Gaza on Palestinian cultural and collective identity, as well as its implications on the Palestinian cause. It further explores the critical role of archival practices as they pertain to Palestinian life and sovereignty, and the challenges around archiving practices amidst the ongoing genocide and the continuing settler colonial reality in Palestine.

The talk is held online in English. 

Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP) is a network of self-defined librarians, archivists, and information workers in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. The network is committed to fostering non-hierarchical exchange with Palestinian libraries, archives, and related projects and institutions with the goal of gaining mutual benefit through information and skill-sharing.

Mezna Qato is Margaret Anstee Fellow and Director of Studies in History at Newnham College, University of Cambridge.  She is completing a book on the history of education for Palestinians. Her work revolves around three themes: social histories of Palestinians, the politics and practice of archives, and comparative settler colonialism. She has written in the International Journal of Middle East Studies and elsewhere. She co-convenes the Archives of the Disappeared Research Network, is a founding committee member of Librarians and Archivists with Palestine, and an editor at Radical History Review. Her most recent artwork, a scorebook on life in exile, was recently in exhibition at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. She is a member of the board of the Qattan Foundation, MAKAN, and Friends of Birzeit University.