After the Palestine Liberation Organization withdrew from Beirut as a result of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the most significant Palestinian film archive, comprising more than 100 documentaries, was nowhere to be found. This article examines Kings and Extras: Digging for a Palestinian Image (dir. Azza El-Hassan, 2004), a documentary that ostensibly chronicles the director’s search for the archive, but ultimately explores Palestinians’ recurrent efforts to narrate and visualize their historical reality in the face of archival appropriation and destruction. As El-Hassan travels between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and occupied Palestine, her journey becomes a quest for Palestinian freedom dreams, generating its own, living archive, uniquely Palestinian in its unauthorized, stateless, and itinerant form. Engaging Palestinian archival imaginaries alongside decolonial feminist critiques of positivist historiography, I propose “reparative fabulation” as an act of the radical narrative imagination that animates unrealized political potentialities glimpsed in the gaps endemic to violated archives.
Narrating Looted and Living Palestinian Archives: Reparative Fabulation in Azza El-Hassan’s Kings and Extras
Kareem Estefan is a PhD candidate in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, currently completing a dissertation on witnessing and worldbuilding in Palestinian visual culture. His essays and reviews have appeared in publications including 4 Columns, Art in America, BOMB, Frieze, Ibraaz, Journal of Palestine Studies, Journal of Visual Culture, Third Text, and World Records. Kareem is co-editor of Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (OR Books, 2017), an anthology of essays on artists’ activism, cultural boycotts, and transnational solidarities. He is the recipient of a 2021–2022 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship and a 2020–2021 Darat al-Funun Dissertation Fellowship.
Kareem Estefan; Narrating Looted and Living Palestinian Archives: Reparative Fabulation in Azza El-Hassan’s Kings and Extras. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2022; 8 (2): 43–69. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2022.8.2.43
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