Kareem Estefan F'21

Kareem  Estefan
Doctoral Candidate
Modern Culture and Media
Brown University

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2021
Doctoral Candidate
Modern Culture and Media
Brown University
Witnessing as Worldbuilding: Imagining Repair and Decolonization in Palestinian Visual Culture

What does it mean to bear witness in contemporary Palestinian visual culture? This dissertation analyzes and historicizes Palestinian films and artworks that reconfigure witnessing as an imaginative act of decolonization, in which testimony to injustice is joined with reparative speculations. It contextualizes a turn toward strategies of fabulation, speculation, and opacity as a critical response to the political limitations of humanitarianism and the aesthetic restrictions of documentary realism, correlated constraints bolstered by the rise of NGOs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and by transformations in the local and global media landscapes during the 1990s. At the same time, it contends that elements of worldbuilding have been immanent to Palestinian witnessing, if often overlooked by scholars, since the earliest self-representations of their 1948 dispossession.