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Workshop: Archival Methods and Global Palestine in the 1960s and 1970s

Cfp: workshop at Roskilde University, April 16-17, 2021


Palestinian revolutionary action, practice, thought, and culture were from the outset global phenomena. The internationalization of the Palestinian struggle happened on multiple fronts, took a multiplicity of forms, and created connections with revolutionaries, activists, movements, and radical and anti-colonial networks across the world. As a result, Palestine became a cause for the Left globally and an iconic symbol and recipient of material and moral support and solidarity. In addition to diplomatic and institutional support from Arab states and actors such as Maoist China and the Cuba-led Tricontinental movement, the Palestinian revolutionary movement became global through the creation of unions and associations, solidarity movements, ideological and intellectual exchange, cultural production, travel, and personal encounters and entanglement between Palestinians and others. Recent trends in critical archive studies have highlighted the imperial genealogy of archives and the silences and power built into their very fabric. At the same time, scholars, activists, and artists have challenged myopic and state-centric understandings of archives as necessarily consisting of state and colonial repositories. Archives, especially those of revolutionary movements and stateless peoples, are oral, visual, sonic, poetic, literary, personal, affective, and global. Often, they are fragmented, stolen, or destroyed, as happened when the Palestinian Research Center was looted by the invading Israeli army in 1982.

To write histories of a global revolutionary movement and a revolutionary people, many of whom continue to live in exile or under colonial occupation and who might face persecution by what archives can expose, requires us to think against and to use archives differently, creatively, and with great sensitivity. This workshop seeks to contribute to global Palestinian history through a probing of and imaginative engagement with archival practices archives, wherever these might be found and whatever shape they might take. More specifically, this workshop aims to create a conversation about the positionalities and methodological, practical, and political barriers, as well as the potentials, involved in archiving and researching the global aspects of the Palestinian revolutionary struggle. How can scholars, activists, and artists research, teach, write, and archive the history of the Palestinian revolution in a way that does justice to its global entanglements with other anti-colonial movements and in a way that recognizes the role of Palestinians in globalizing their revolution? How can archives, especially those located in Europe or the US, be shared and made available to scholars and individuals without the privilege of mobility and institutional support? How can new technologies be utilized and how do we critically address issues of positionality and the at times uneven relationships between those engaged in archiving practices and those who get to articulate analytical statements about such archives? What are the tensions, geographical, institutional, and otherwise, involved in the labor of archiving versus the labor of writing? By bringing together people from across different disciplines and professions, this workshop hopes to contribute to bridging some of these divides.

This two-day workshop is hosted by the Entangled Histories of Palestine and the Global New Left research project at Roskilde University in Denmark. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the workshop will be held online via Zoom. Should travel become possible, we will offer a hybrid format. In this case, funding for travel and accommodation will be available. The workshop will take place on April 16-17 2021. Scholars, activists, and artists working on or against archiving or with archives pertaining to the Palestinian revolutionary movement and struggle from a global perspective during this period are invited to submit an abstract of max 300 words together with a short biographical note by 1st February 2021. In addition to traditional argument-driven papers and presentations that explore the history of specific or multiple archives, we are interested in critical and creative interventions and reflections on archives and archiving practices that center on the global nature of the Palestinian revolution and its cadres and supporters. Presentations are expected to last between 15 and 20 minutes and are followed by Q&A.  

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Solidarity Movement Archives
  • Poetic and Literary Archives
  • Art as Archive
  • Filmmaking and Cinematic Archives
  • Oral Histories
  • Digital and Online Archives
  • Destroyed and Lost Archives
  • International Organizations and Funding Bodies
  • Surveillance and Intelligence Agency Archives
  • Palestinians in the Diaspora
  • Radical Friendship and Affective Archives
  • Palestine in Cuban, Chinese, Soviet, Algerian, and Vietnamese Archives
  • Positionality of Researchers

Those invited to attend will be asked to submit papers of no more than 5000 words two weeks in advance of the workshop. We hope that the workshop will result in a publication, either in the form of an edited volume or a journal special issue publication. Please submit abstracts to Pelle Valentin Olsen at Any queries are also welcome.