GOLDSMITHS METHODS LAB
‘IN THE PRESENCE OF ABSENCE’: REFLECTIONS ON FIELDWORK IN PALESTINE
Disappearance and disappearing – not only of cities, but of the state, of borders, of people – bitterly defines the particularity of Palestinian existence. One of the great Palestinian poets, Mahmoud Darwish, looking back at his life journey, described in his last set of poems the experience of constantly finding himself in the presence of his own absence.
This panel session, from the Methods Lab at Goldsmiths, reflects on the different kinds of absences and presences that they have encountered as part of their work in Palestine and considers some of the challenges and responsibilities that such work raises for researchers and visual practitioners.
The discussion is based on two Goldsmiths projects: Samah Saleh will explore the absences that female Palestinian prisoners must confront in and on their return from Israeli prisons; Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek will address her encounters with the ‘ghost’ homes of exiled Palestinians. The discussion will be introduced and chaired by Mariam Motamedi-Fraser.
Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek is a visual ethnographer and PhD candidate in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths, London, where she researches narratives of home, homeland and return amongst Palestinian exiles and their descendants and audio-visually engages with their diasporic/displacement journeys. In 2012 she served as a human rights observer in East Jerusalem. She has written for Haaretz, Gazeta Wyborcza, Arabia.pl and Liberte!
Samah Saleh is a PhD candidate in the Sociology department at Goldsmiths, London. Her doctoral research is about the experience of Palestinian women’s incarceration in Israeli prisons. She is following women’s lives before, during and after imprisonment. As a women’s rights activist in Palestine she has also been involved in a research on violence against women and has worked on women rights issues in her position in An-Najah national university as a social worker and academic.
Mariam Motamedi-Fraser teaches in the areas of visuality, archives, and the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences in the Sociology department at Goldsmiths. She is co-Director, with Nirmal Puwar, of the Methods Lab. Her current research interests are in the materiality of words and the feel/experience of different forms of reason. As well as her academic publications, and a novel, she has written for Jadaliyya, Ibraaz, and Sahfeh.
This event responds to The Mosaic Rooms’ Disappearing Cities of the Arab World programme.