Encounters
 
Museums, Communities and the Construction of National Identity
Museums have many duties, including several that seem designed to contribute to the building of nations and national development: preserving and exploring national histories, defining and presenting national cultures, and, perhaps most importantly, recording, listening to and engaging with the voices of a nation’s people. Focusing on museums' contribution towards nation building, the seminar will discuss the key role of museums in the production of knowledge and as platforms for debate.
 
Speakers' Bios
 
Esmail Nashif is an anthropologist, writer, and art critic. His main research interests focus on language, ideology, and aesthetics. Some of his recent books include: On Palestinian Abstraction: Zohdy Qadry and the Geometrical Melody of Late Modernism (2014); Memory and Immigration: Al Nakbah in Contemporary Palestinian Art (2012); The Architectonics of Loss: The Question of Contemporary Palestinian Culture (2012); Thagharat: Short Stories (2012); Gradus for Opening the Episteme (2010, 2014 2 edition); Palestinian Political Prisoners: Identity and community (2008).
 
Fiammetta Rocco is the cultural editor of The Economist since 2003. She was born in Kenya to French-Italian parents and read Arabic at Oxford. She has won journalism awards on both sides of the Atlantic and has been named the British Feature Writer of the Year in UK Press Awards. Her book about the discovery of quinine, “The Miraculous Fever Tree”, has been published by HarperCollins. In December 2013, The Economist published “Temples of Delight”, her ten-page special report on the future of museums.
 
Jack Persekian Director of the Palestinian Museum. Born and residing in Jerusalem, Persekian is the Head Curator and Director of the Palestinian Museum. He is responsible for leading the development of the museum into an agent of empowerment and integration for Palestinian culture. Persekian is also the founder and director of Anadiel Gallery and the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem.
Previously, Persekian was the Director of the Sharjah Art Foundation (2009 – 2011) and the Artistic Director of the Sharjah Biennial (2007 – 2011). He had also held the position of the Head Curator of the Sharjah Biennial in 2004-2007.
Exhibitions curated by Persekian include: Disorientation II, Manaret Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi (2009), Never-Part, Bozar, Brussels (2008), Dubai Next, co-curated with Rem Koolhaas at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany (2008), Reconsidering Palestinian Art, Cuenca, Spain (2006); Disorientation – Contemporary Arab Artists from the Middle East, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2003). Other productions and artistic direction include: The Palestinian Cultural Evening at the World Economic Forum in the Dead Sea, Jordan (2004), and the Millennium Celebrations in Bethlehem - Bethlehem 2000 (1999 - 2000).
 
Salim Tamari is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Palestinian Studies (IPS) and the former director of the IPS-affiliated Institute of Jerusalem Studies. He is the editor of Jerusalem Quarterly and Hawliyyat al Quds. He also teaches sociology at Birzeit University and is an adjunct professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. He is an author of several works on urban culture, political sociology, biography and social history, and the social history of the Eastern Mediterranean. Recent publications include: Year of the Locust: Palestine and Syria during WWI (UC Press, 2010); Ihsan's War: The Intimate Life of An Ottoman Soldier (IPS, Beirut, 2008); The Mountain Against the Sea (University of California Press, 2008).