Exhibiting Nation: A Brief History of Palestinian Exhibition Making in the Twentieth Century
cultural politics
exhibition making
exhibition histories
national representation
Palestine resistance
Palestine Liberation Organization

This article presents an overview of Palestinian exhibition making in the twentieth century. It addresses an absence of academic engagement with how, starting in the 1920s, a repertoire of Palestinian pedagogical and representational materials, temporary and makeshift spaces, and multiple protodiplomatic and unionized efforts under the Palestinian Liberation Organization informed a culture of exhibition making that created critical sites for: cultivating and critiquing taste within art movements and among Palestinians; operationalizing national sentiment and political consciousness; and mobilizing international support around the legitimacy of the Palestinian cause. Specifically, the article accounts for the Palestinian mobilization of exhibitions in response to European and Zionist expansionism (1917–48), as a social praxis of community building and resilience (1948–64), and as a form of political resistance through the radical internationalization of Palestinian cultural affairs (1964–87). It culminates with a discussion of the first intifada and the morphing of exhibition culture into the Palestinian Authority’s state-building project following the Oslo Accords (1987–93).

Author biography: 

Ali T. As’ad is an architect, curator, editor, and educator based in Amsterdam. As’ad is currently working on his doctorate examining the praxis of Palestinian exhibition making and museum practices as part of a broader investigation of the incongruity between the political space of the state and the cultural space of the nation in the twenty-first-century condition.