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Cinematic Occupation: Intelligibility, Queerness, and Palestine

Jankovic, Colleen (2013) Cinematic Occupation: Intelligibility, Queerness, and Palestine. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation brings a visual culture and queer studies approach to the study of cinema’s role in discourses of belonging in Israel and Occupied Palestine. I argue that cinema and racialized discourses of gender, sexuality and ethno-nationalism play a key role in the denial of Palestinian belonging. I begin by arguing that ongoing Palestinian dispossession remains largely unrecognizable in the dominant North American and European imagination of Palestine in part due to what became a recognizable and inevitable narrative of Palestine as a Jewish national homeland. Revealing the extra-Zionist routes of early Jewish Agency propaganda films, for example, I detach them from reigning progress narratives in Israeli transnational film studies, and explore their implication in a broader visual culture that promoted exclusive Jewish national belonging in Historic Palestine. Through an analysis of painting, landscape imagery, and settlement architecture, including the early Wall and Tower design of the 1930s settlements and their continued logic in the architectures of occupation today, I place cinema in this larger visual and architectural context of what I call Cinematic Occupation, emphasizing its diverse enlistments in occupation and in the denial of Palestinian belonging. I show how Israeli nationalism reiterates an overly stable, demographically regulated, and militarized sense of home, while a trope of unsettled homes in Palestinian cinema suggests the possibility of persisting in an attachment to “Palestine” without stable foundations. Underscoring how Palestinians have maintained a sense of belonging—to Palestine, to a broader Palestinian collectivity—without recourse to dominant narratives of national identity, I argue for a model of solidarity that attends to constrained forms of belonging. In this way, I align my work with recent queer studies work on racialized forms of state, military, and administrative violence, including, but not limited to, those that have an obvious relation to issues of gender and sexual diversity. Ultimately, I argue that dominant Zionist and Israeli narratives about the illegitimacy of Palestinian belonging have benefited from the logic that cinema is a source of visual proof, and I explore alternative models in contemporary Palestinian cinematic practice for thinking about cinema’s potential and limits.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMajumdar,
Committee MemberAnderson, Mark Lynnandersml@pitt.eduANDERSML
Committee MemberBoone, Troyboone@pitt.eduBOONE
Committee MemberReeser, Toddreeser@pitt.eduREESER
Date: 25 January 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 28 November 2012
Approval Date: 25 January 2013
Submission Date: 14 December 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 270
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Palestine, Palestinian cinema, Israeli cinema, Israeli-Palestinian, queer studies, visual culture, Middle Eastern cinema, Zionist cinema, Jewish Agency films, transnational film studies, visuality, recognition, belonging, cinema and architecture, landscape
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2013 21:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:08


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