Gil Hochberg on Visual Occupations in Israel/Palestine

Date: May 27, 2015 from 7pm-8:30pm
Where: Levantine Cultural Center
Price: Free to the public (charitable contributions welcome). Reservations suggested. RSVP below.

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An academic and innovator, UCLA comp lit prof Gil Hochberg has written a terrific new book, according to Ella Shohat, Ted Swedenberg and others. It's entitled Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, and Dr. Hochberg will present the book at the Levantine Cultural Center on Thursday, May 27th, 7 pm. Writes Swedenberg, "Gil Z. Hochberg's brilliant and lucidly written text provides a vivid analysis of the sharp limits on visibility in Palestine/Israel. The expulsions of Palestinians in 1948 are invisible in Israel, and yet they continue to haunt its citizens and mobilize Palestinian resistance. Palestinians under occupation are hyper-visible, as victims and militants, and they seek both non-spectacular images and a measure of opacity. Through her critical readings of an array of Palestinian and Israeli artistic works, Hochberg offers other ways of looking and being seen in this vastly unequal field of visibility." —Ted Swedenberg, coeditor of Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture.

In Visual Occupations Gil Z. Hochberg shows how the Israeli Occupation of Palestine is driven by the unequal access to visual rights, or the right to control what can be seen, how, and from which position. Israel maintains this unequal balance by erasing the history and denying the existence of Palestinians, and by carefully concealing its own militarization. Israeli surveillance of Palestinians, combined with the militarized gaze of Israeli soldiers at places like roadside checkpoints, also serve as tools of dominance. Hochberg analyzes various works by Palestinian and Israeli artists, among them Elia Suleiman, Rula Halawani, Sharif Waked, Ari Folman, and Larry Abramson, whose films, art, and photography challenge the inequity of visual rights by altering, queering, and manipulating dominant modes of representing the conflict. These artists' creation of new ways of seeing-such as the refusal of Palestinian filmmakers and photographers to show Palestinian suffering or the Israeli artists' exposure of state manipulated Israeli blindness -offers a crucial gateway, Hochberg suggests, for overcoming and undoing Israel's militarized dominance and political oppression of Palestinians. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gil Z. Hochberg is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at UCLA. She is the author of In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs and the Limits of Separatist Imagination.  

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