About the event

A vast treasure of books, documents, and photographs looted from Palestinians in 1948 became part of the Israeli archives established or reorganized after the founding of the Israeli state. But this did not remain a single past event. The looting of archives has been ongoing and should not be understood merely as a violation of Palestinian property and rights, but rather as an ongoing performance of national sovereignty in which the persona of the “infiltrator” plays a foundational role. The looting has been one of the acts by which this sovereignty has been performed as the ongoing project of partition of populations into distinct, differentiated groups, whereby violence among the two groups is both the pretext and the effect. Using the archive as a medium for the performance of national sovereignty, Azoulay will refute the Schmittian conceptualization of sovereignty as power that hinges on brief, singular moments of decision. Rather than the full control of the archive that Schmitt's conceptualization implies, she will conceptualize the archive as the ongoing struggle over sovereignty that takes place in and through it.

This lecture is organized in conjunction with Christian Palestinian Archive: A Project by Dor Guez in The James Gallery. Ariella Azoulay is Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture and Media, Brown University, and an independent curator and filmmaker. She is the author of The Civil Contract of Photography (2008), a groundbreaking book which provides a compelling rethinking of photography's political and ethical status.

The lecture will be followed by a discussion with Susan Buck-Morss, Professor of Political Philosophy, The Graduate Center, CUNY.

This event is presented as part of Mediating the Archive, an interdisciplinary research group that focuses on how archival studies dovetail with the scholarly and artistic legacy of queer activism through visual art, film, digital media, and dance. The group is supported by the Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research. For more information or to join, email [email protected].

Cosponsored by the Mediating the Archive Mellon Seminar in Public Engagement and Collaborative Research in the Humanities, The Middle East and Middle East American Center, and the Ph.D. Program in Art History at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and supported in part by Artis Foundation for Contemporary Art.