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29. September 2021 – 31. Oktober 2022
The Palestinian Museum
Birzeit, Ramallah, Palästina
Gastkuratorin: Inass Yassin
Assistenzkurator: Ahmad Alaqra
Historische Berater: Professor Adel Manna, Professor Mahmoud Yazbek
Generaldirektorin des Palästinensischen Museums: Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, PhD.
Künstlerinnen und Künstler: Abed Abdi, Amir Nizar Zuabi, Bashar Khalaf, Dima Srouji, Essa Grayeb, Manar Zuabi, Nasser Soumi, Nour Abu Hashhash, Raed Duzdar, Shareef Sarhan, Sasha Khoury, Suzanne Groothuis, Yanko Todori Tadros.
Die Ausstellung des Palästinensischen Museums A People by the Sea: Narratives of the Palestinian Coast [Ein Volk am Meer: Erzählungen von der palästinensischen Küste] zeigt eine Auswahl an visuellem, archivarischem, interaktivem und erzählerischem historischen Material (18. Jahrhundert bis heute) über das palästinensische Volk und seine tief verwurzelte Verbindung zu seinem Land und dem Meer. Es sind auch speziell in Auftrag gegebene künstlerische Interventionen einbezogen.
Ausgehend von der Geschichte der palästinensischen Küste in drei Jahrhunderten entwickelt die Ausstellung konzentrierte Erzählungen über den Aufstieg von Akka (Akko) in der Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts, den Aufstieg von Yaffa (Jaffa) im 19. Jahrhundert und die allmähliche Konzentration von Kapital und Handel in Palästinas Küstenstädten. Durch die Reflexion vergangener Erfahrungen wird eine mögliche Zukunft in Betracht gezogen, um eine weniger vertraute Perspektive der modernen palästinensischen Geschichte zu erhellen.
Prior to the emergence of statehood in its modern conception, Palestine saw the formation of political entities that were quasi-independent from the Ottoman state. These entities played a significant role in guiding the construction of the urban centres that would become Palestine’s coastal cities.
The most significant effort at self-governance was led in the 17th century by Daher al-Omar al-Zaydani, who began his rise to power in Galilee. This occurred after his appointment by the Ottoman Governor of Sidon as a mültazim (tax farmer) in the villages of Damoun and Arrabat al-Battouf.
Daher al-Omar grasped the importance of the coast and made Akka (Acre) his capital in 1748. His rule lasted six decades, during which he consolidated his authority despite Ottoman rule. This authority had a significant impact on the formation and development of his power as well as on the policies concerning fellahin, Bedouins, and various religious groups in northern Palestine. His rule saw the construction of coastal towns and the restructuring of the country’s interior. This laid a solid foundation for cities’ prosperity and the creation of an economic powerhouse reliant upon agriculture and foreign trade, especially cotton.
The Rise of Akka
The Tanzimat (Reforms) period (1839–1876) was a time of fundamental transformation across the regions governed by the Ottoman Empire. These included the adoption of statutes concerning, inter alia, legal equality among Ottoman citizens, general administration principles, and the emulation of European administrative and organisational models. For Palestine, the most impactful reforms were the Land Law of 1858, the Vilayet Law of 1864, and the declaration of the Ottoman Constitution in 1876, which led to a change in the structure of Palestinian society and its relation to the state. This was manifest in the empowerment of local political elites, linking local markets to the capitalist world economy, and the displacement of economic and political seats of power from the countryside to the city. Consequently, the state compelled local rulers to relinquish their independent authority and work instead as civil servants of the Ottoman state.
Between the mid-19th century and its fall in the 1948 Nakba, the implementation of the Ottoman Tanzimat (reforms) had a transformative impact that contributed to Jaffa’s rise as a prosperous socio-economic hub. In the wake of the Tanzimat, the country enjoyed a period of security. The process of land registration contributed to the rehabilitation of more lands, leading to a rapid rise in agricultural production. This was followed by successive waves of internal migration from Nablus, Jerusalem, and Hebron seeking work and investment opportunities in Jaffa, especially in the development of groves.
Jaffa also attracted migrants from Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. The city became a commercial hub with ties to European markets and acquired growing importance among Mediterranean cities. Organised Jewish settlement ultimately led to the laying of the foundation stone of Tel Aviv in 1909 at Jaffa’s northern edge.
Jaffa, Heart of the Mediterranean
As a result of the 1916 secret Sykes-Picot Agreement (which allowed Britain and France’s fragmentation of the region), the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the 1918 end of World War I, the 1922 dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent ratification of the British Mandate on Palestine by the League of Nations; Britain began preparing favourable political, administrative, and economic conditions for the establishment of a "Jewish national homeland" in Palestine. This period saw a rise in mass Jewish immigration, an increase in Zionist land acquisition, and British support for the expansion of Tel-Aviv through land confiscations. Britain also supported the growth of Jewish Zionist investments at the expense of Palestinians, leading to Zionist control over major economic sectors. Despite the challenges, the Palestinian economy made significant strides, accompanied by a revival of social and cultural life. All of this was done while confronting British Mandate forces and Zionist settler groups.
British Mandate and the Nakba
Palestinians were united in rejecting the 1947 United Nations Resolution 181 for the Partition of Palestine, which gave 54% of the country to Jews and left 45% of the land to its original inhabitants. This was done despite Palestinians constituting more than two-thirds of the population. It occurred as Britain was preparing to withdraw from Palestine. Palestinians’ unequivocal rejection of the fait accompli led to military resistance. However, it was curbed by the Zionist military "Plan Dalet" in March 1948, whose aim was to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the future Jewish state. This campaign included a series of massacres, deportations, and demolitions, especially after Britain departed.
Zionist paramilitary groups already committed massacres as a prelude to the Nakba. An example of this was the bombing campaign of the Irgun and Lehi gangs in 1937. By mid-1947, Zionist paramilitary groups had conducted more than 7 massacres, killing more than 250 Palestinians and wounding thousands. November 1947 saw the announcement of the UN Partition Plan Resolution 181, which may be considered the official starting point of the Palestinian Nakba.
The exhibition is accompanied by dozens of events, lectures, performances, open days, artist talks and workshops, including:
The Museum welcomed dozens of school groups’ visits from across the West Bank to the exhibition. Their visits included interactive tours and artistic activities.
Learn more about Upcoming Events & Activities
See also the Exhibition Guide (pdf)
Lenders and Contributors: Maha Abushusheh, George M. Al-Ama, Jonathan Cook, Raed Duzdar, Amjad Ghannam, A.S. Hanieh family, Amer Shomali and Yara Odeh.
Production and Curatorial: Obour Hashash, Exhibition Production Manager; Sandy Rishmawi, Assistant Curator; Lubna Al-Araj, Curatorial Production Assistant; Malak Abdelwahab, Researcher and Curatorial Assistant; Ashraf Hamdan, Researcher and Curatorial Assistant; Baha’ Jubeh, Museum Registrar.
Donors: A. M. Qattan Foundation through the "Visual Arts: A Flourishing Field" (VAFF) Project, funded by Sweden, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Bank of Palestine.
The Palestinian Museum
(Off Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Street)
PO Box 48, Birzeit, Palestine
Tel: +970 2 294 1948
Mob: +970 595 991102
Fax: +970 2 294 1936
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From press information.
© Texts and Photos: The Palestinian Museum
Inass Yassin is a studio artist and curator.
Her practice investigates urban and social transformations in Palestine since the late 1980s. She was the director of the Birzeit University Museum between 2010-2017. As a Fulbright grantee, she obtained her MFA from Maine College of Art, in 2019. She also has a Master of Arts earned in 2009 from the University of Southampton, UK.