Coreographies of resistance against settler colonialism: Rehab Nazzal, Representation of Settler Colonial Violence in Palestine: Thesis in support of the multi-media exhibition Choreographies of Resistance, PhD dissertation, The University of Western Ontario, 2018

13Jun18

Abstract: This project-based dissertation emerges from my engagement with theories of representation, settler colonialism, and genocide, as well as involvement with direct engagement through embodied experience of the Palestinian reality in the colonized West Bank during 2015–2017. The artworks and written components of this project seek to represent shards of the multilayered Western-Zionist settler colonial project in Palestine through a focus on the struggle and resilience of the Palestinian people and the endurance of their land. Land seizing as the aim of settler colonialism and the colonised bodies as sites of oppression and sites of resistance are central to the various works of the exhibition and the textual analysis. The dissertation is built on the assertion that the Western-Zionist venture in Palestine amounts to an incremental genocide that targets the existence of the Palestinian people, their material culture, and their land. It also asserts that the right of the Palestinians to resist colonial violence is a legitimate right enshrined in international law and connected to the struggle of colonized and oppressed people around the world. My experience and what I observed and documented in the West Bank—particularly in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem—represented in this project, resembles Palestinian resilience, sumud (steadfastness), and resistance in the face of a century of Zionist dispossession and military oppression. Representing active settler colonialism is hindered by continued violence on the ground in Palestine, dominant Zionist narratives, suppression and misrepresentation of the colonized peoples’ resistance, as well as by the limitations of representational forms. Obstacles that I have faced while working on this project include denial of entry to Gaza ( twelve years under blockade), restrictions of movement within the country, and access to sites, information, as well as intimidation and sometimes life threats.



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