Contemporary Palestinian Art: Origins, Nationalism, Identity
Editor and Contributor:
Rawan Sharaf
Abdullah Abu Sharara
مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية
Publication Year: 
Number of Pages: 

This book provides the most comprehensive survey of contemporary Palestinian art to date. The development of contemporary practice, theory and criticism is understood as integral to the concomitant construction of Palestinian national identities. In particular, the book explores the intricate relationship between art and nationalism in which the idea of origin plays an important and problematic role. The book deconstructs the existing narratives of the history of Palestinian art, which search for its origins in the 19th century, and argues that Palestinian contemporary art demonstrates pluralistic, politically and philosophically complex attitudes towards identity and nation that confound familiar narratives of origin and belonging. The book builds upon theories of art, nationalism and post-colonialism particularly in relation to the themes of fragmentation and dispersal. It takes the Arabic word for Diaspora Shatat (literally broken apart) as a central concern in contemporary understanding of Palestinian culture and develops it, along with Edward Said’s paradoxical formula of a ‘coherence of dispersal’ as the organizing concept of the book. This aspect of contemporary Palestinian art is peculiarly suited to the conditions produced by the globalization of art and we show how Palestinian artists, despite not having a state, have developed an international profile.


Bashir Makhoul is Palestinian, born in Galilee. He is an artist and academic and has been based in the United Kingdom for the past 26 years. During this time, he has produced a body of work based on repeated motifs which can be characterized by their power of aesthetic seduction. Economics, nationalism, war and torture are frequently woven into the layers of Makhoul’s work and often the more explicit the material, the more seductive the surface. He completed his Ph.D. in 1995 at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK. He has exhibited his work widely in Britain and internationally.

In April 2017 he became Vice-Chancellor at the University for the Creative Arts. Prior to this he was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University and a professor in art and design.

Previously he was Head of Department of Art and Design and the Director of the Research Institute of Media, Art and Design at the University of Bedfordshire, where he was also the founding Head of the School of Media Art and Design. He was also the Rector of the Winchester Campus and Head of Winchester School of Art. Additionally, he is the founder and Co-Director of the Winchester Centre for Global Futures in Art Design and Media.

Gordon Hon with a background in Fine Art, having gained a BA (Hons) Fine Art Painting degree at the Liverpool School of Art and an M(Res) in Fine Art from the University of Bedfordshire, Gordon is mainly focused on theory-based research into the political uses of contemporary art.

As a UCA Professorial Fellow, Gordon will continue his research into contemporary Palestinian art, which he has been conducting alongside UCA Vice-Chancellor Bashir Makhoul, for a forthcoming book. He’ll also be assisting students and academics with their theoretical research.

Gordon has written three books so far, and contributed to several different publications. He has curated seven exhibitions, most recently Bashir Makhoul’s The Punishment of Luxury, at the Umm el Fahem Gallery, Palestine/Israel.

Rawan Sharaf is an art director, curator and researcher in the Palestinian art field.  Sharaf was the director of the Palestinian Art Court - al Hoash (2006-2013), and she managed its series of books on Palestinian art and contributed as editor and author to its publications. She holds a Ph.D. from Birmingham City University – UK  for a research that investigates the politics of institutionalization of the Palestinian visual art field.  She is a lecturer at the Art and Design Faculty at Birzeit University.

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