“Silence,” Heritage, and Sumud in Silwan, East Jerusalem
“City of David”
East Jerusalem

Research interest in Jerusalem’s archaeological-touristic landscape and its close relationship with Israeli state-sponsored settler colonialism has increased greatly over the past two decades. At the center of Jerusalem’s contested landscape is the Palestinian village of Silwan and the “City of David” in East Jerusalem. Much of the scholarship concerning these sites has used the language of heritage and memory in a manner that has inadvertently highlighted the narrative practices of Jewish-Israeli settlers at the “City of David.” The author argues that the result is a top-down framing of the sites whereby Palestinian Silwan, at least in the academy, is now associated primarily with Israeli archaeological activity. Based on four months of ethnographic fieldwork in East Jerusalem during the summer of 2022, Stokes explores the nature of silencing, heritage, and sumud in Silwan and the social, political, and ethical complexities involved in reporting on it. The author suggests that recent developments in Palestinian heritage praxis hold the key for appropriately projecting and legitimizing Palestinian resistance in Silwan to an international academic and political audience.

Author biography: 

Joel Stokes is a PhD candidate at University College London’s (UCL) Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies and the Institute of Archaeology. His research explores Palestinian heritage and archaeological agency in Silwan, East Jerusalem. The author extends appreciation to the editors and reviewers of the draft of this essay, with particular thanks to Matthew Hewitt and Peter Stokes for guidance in the early stages of writing.