Alexandria Digital Research Library

Equality in the Shadows : Uncovering the Utopian Dimension of Palestinian Film and Media

Burris, Gregory A.
Degree Supervisor:
Michael Curtin
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Middle Eastern studies, Film studies, and Ethnic studies
Cultural theory
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Film and Media Studies
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2015

How does hope emerge amidst a hopeless situation, freedom amidst apartheid, equality amidst inequality? In the context of Palestine, where is utopian located? A possible answer to these enigmas presented itself in a Freedom March organized by a group of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron in March 2013. Carrying Palestinian flags, they crossed into a forbidden zone, boldly walking into the section of the street designated for Jewish settlers only. On their faces were masks of Martin Luther King, Jr., in their hands were portraits of Rosa Parks, and on their shirts were four English words: "I have a dream". By resurrecting the imagery and iconography of the US Black Freedom Movement, these Palestinians were drawing new, imaginative constellations of counterhegemonic protest and forging transnational links of solidarity across time and space. The demonstrators thus staged a disruption. They temporarily interrupted the status quo and transgressed the rules and regulations of the hegemonic order. As a result, they were swiftly apprehended by uniformed members of the Israeli Defense Forces. As if to reenact a scene from Birmingham or Selma, the soldiers ripped the flags from the protesters' hands and placed them in handcuffs. With MLK masks still on their faces, the demonstrators were loaded onto trucks and quickly taken out of sight.

The protest was thus brought to a halt almost as soon as it had begun. In this way, an attempt was made to contain the disruption, to restore the ruling regime of hierarchy and segregation, and to sew up the tear that the demonstrators had ripped in the symbolic universe. But while the protesters themselves could be forcibly removed from the scene, the images they left behind could not be so easily erased. Photographs of the demonstration were immediately published on the Internet and circulated on social media websites. Like apparitions from another dimension, these images demonstrate that another world is possible, a world without ethnic- or religious-determined divisions, a world without apartheid walls, security fences, or segregated streets. They show that the unthinkable can be made thinkable, that the invisible can be made visible, and that the impossible can be made possible.

This staged news spectacle represents just one example of a larger trend. In Equality in the Shadows, I look at the role of film, media, and culture in the Palestinian struggle against Zionist colonization. Basing my dissertation on both Edward Said's notion of "the Palestinian Idea" and Jacques Ranciere's subversive redefinition of equality, I aim to show how through film and media, Palestinian liberation is not only a dream for a far-off and distant future but something that already exists in the present. While my dissertation has a strong foundation in film and media studies, I am drawing on a range of approaches, and I believe my work is relevant to scholars in a variety of disciplines including Black studies, cultural studies, global studies, Middle Eastern studies, politics, and sociology. Each chapter utilizes the work of several critical theorists, and I am attempting to put Palestinian media in conversation with writers such as Ernst Bloch, James Cone, Joan Copjec, Sigmund Freud, Stuart Hall, Dick Hebdige, C.L.R. James, Ghassan Kanafani, Robin D.G. Kelley, George Lipsitz, Catherine Malabou, Herbert Marcuse, and Slavoj Zizek.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (319 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Greg Burris
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