Reading Absence, Gender, and the Land(scape) in Palestinian Art

Luisa Gandolfo* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the past 70 years, the Nakba has been remembered through depictions of the land that incorporate nature as a symbol, the body as an extension of the land, and cultural narratives that mourn and memorialize the homeland. In each medium, the land is symbolically and semantically gendered, at times overtly, at others subtly, as it is read as the virgin, the beloved, and the mother, capable of sustaining some, and rejecting others. As the land threads through the artworks, the memorialization takes on physical dimensions, as artists use their own bodies, and the bodies of others, to carry memories and convey narratives connected with the land and exile. Reflecting on this, the chapter builds on Bal’s concept of the cultural memory as a link between the past, present, and future (1999, p. vii) to question how the discursive gendering of the land prompts the absent to be collectively remembered. To do so, the chapter looks at multi-media works by female Palestinian artists, incorporating painting, photography, and audio-visual pieces, and considers the ways that gendered representations of the land have shifted since 1948, with reference to the works of Sophie Halaby (1906-1998), Tammam Al-Akhal (1935- ), Sama Alshaibi (1973- ), and Mona Hatoum (1952- ).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPost-conflict Memorialization
Subtitle of host publication Missing Memorials, Absent Bodies
EditorsLuisa Gandolfo, Olivette Otele, Yoav Galai
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-54887-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-54886-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMemory Politics and Transitional Justice
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • Gender
  • memory
  • Palestine


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