Exhibiting activism at the Palestinian Museum

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The sovereign nation-state remains the taken-for-granted settingfor museums, which are conventionally understood as public insti-tutions that collate and preserve objects, and make collectionsaccessible to visitors. Given these expectations, the PalestinianMuseum offers an intriguing case study in a growing body ofresearch on the relationship between museums and internationalrelations. In 2016, the Palestinian Museum opened in the West Bankwithout a collection and with an admission that, due to the Israelioccupation, many Palestinians would not be able to reach thebuilding. This article proposes that the museum initiative and theexperiences it has entailed illustrate activism under occupation, andthe challenge this activism makes to Israel’s policies of control anderasure has been visible in three key ways. Firstly, the museumasserts a visible national presence in an environment where theeveryday lives of Palestinians and Palestinian ambitions for inde-pendence are severely constrained. Secondly, the museum staffhave used the lack of a collection to draw international attentionto the Israeli occupation and policies of settlement, expropriation,and control. And thirdly, in its programme and stated ambitions,the museum’s designers have given wide scope to their imaginedaudience and the Palestinian national community, with a view toenhancing a transnational arena for activism
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-375
Number of pages16
JournalCritical Military Studies
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2020


  • Occupation
  • Museums
  • Activism
  • Palestinian
  • Israeli
  • museums
  • activism


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