The Art of Minorities: Cultural Representation in Museums of the Middle East and North Africa 9781474443784

Explores the representation of minority cultures in museums of the Middle East and North Africa Sets out a new way of un

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The Art of Minorities: Cultural Representation in Museums of the Middle East and North Africa

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Alternative Histories: Narratives from the Middle East and Mediterranean Series Editor: Sargon Donabed This series provides a forum for exchange on a myriad of alternative histories of m ­ arginalized communities and individuals in the Near and Middle East and Mediterranean, and those of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean heritage. It also high­ lights thematic issues relating to various native peoples and their narratives and – with particular contemporary relevance – explore encounters with the notion of ‘other’ within societies. Often moving beyond the conventional state-centred and dominant monolithic approach, or reinterpreting previously accepted stories, books in the series examine and explain themes from inter-communal relations, environment, health and society, and explore ethnic, communal, racial, linguistic and r­eligious developments, in addition to geopolitics. Editorial Advisory Board Professor Ali Banuazizi Dr Aryo Makko Professor Laura Robson Professor Paul Rowe Professor Hannibal Travis Books in the Series (Published and Forthcoming) Sayfo: An Account of the Assyrian Genocide ‘Abd al-Masih Nu‘man of Qarabash translated and annotated by Michael Abdalla and Łukasz Kiczko Tunisia’s Andalusians: The Cultural Identity of a North African Minority Marta Dominguez Diaz Palestinian Citizens of Israel: A History Through Fiction, 1948–2010 Manar Makhoul Armenians Beyond Diaspora: Making Lebanon their Own Tsolin Nalbantian The Art of Minorities: Cultural Representation in Museums of the Middle East and North Africa Edited by Virginie Rey Shi‘a Minorities in the Contemporary World: Migration, Transnationalism and Multilocality Edited by Oliver Scharbrodt and Yafa Shanneik Protestants, Gender and the Arab Renaissance in Late Ottoman Syria Deanna Ferree Womack


Edinburgh University Press is one of the leading university presses in the UK. We publish academic books and journals in our selected subject areas across the humanities and social sciences, combining cutting-edge scholarship with high editorial and production values to produce academic works of lasting importance. For more information visit our website: © editorial matter and organisation Virginie Rey, 2020 © the chapters their several authors, 2020 Edinburgh University Press Ltd The Tun – Holyrood Road 12 (2f) Jackson’s Entry Edinburgh EH8 8PJ Typeset in 11/15 Adobe Garamond by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire, and printed and bound in Great Britain A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 1 4744 4376 0 (hardback) ISBN 978 1 4744 4378 4 (webready PDF) ISBN 978 1 4744 4379 1 (epub) The right of the contributors to be identified as authors of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 (SI No. 2498).


List of Figures viii List of Acronyms and Abbreviations xii Acknowledgements xiv Note on Transliteration xv Notes on Contributors xvi   1 Introduction – Engaging with ‘Minority’ Voices: Cultural Representation in Museums of the Middle East and North Africa Virginie Rey


Exhibiting Minorities   2 The Ethnographisation of Syrian Society at the Azem Palace of Damascus: From Compact Minorities to Toponymical Identity Virginie Rey and Stephen Pascoe


  3 ‘The Performance of Servitude’: Gendered and Racialised Representations of Citizenship at the Bahrain National Museum John Thabiti Willis


vi |  contents   4 Minority Audience: The Oudayas Museum and the Manufacturing of Elitism in Moroccan Museums Francesca De Micheli   5 Lodges of Debate: Two Museumised Sufi Tekkes in Anatolia Lucía Cirianni Salazar

72 87

Minorities Exhibiting   6 Museums, Migrant Labourers and Ethnic Spatiality in the United Arab Emirates 111 Sarina Wakefield   7 Paving the Way for a Lebanese National Narrative: Empathy at the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Aram Bezikian Museum in Lebanon 130 Rhéa Dagher and Rita Kalindjian   8 A National Museum for a People Without a Land: The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit 151 Zoe Holman   9 Egypt’s Coptic Museum: From Patriarchal to National Dina Ishak Bakhoum


10 Branding Convivencia: Jewish Museums and the Reinvention of a Moroccan Andalus in Essaouira 205 Aomar Boum Imagined Museums 11 Is Tunisia Ready for a Jewish Museum? Perspectives on the Current Debates Surrounding the Status of Jewish Heritage in my Country 227 Habib Kazdaghli 12 ‘Do I Even Exist?’ Kurdish Diaspora Artists Reflect on Imaginary Exhibits in a Kurdistan Museum Vera Eccarius-Kelly


contents |  vii 13 Islamic State’s Archive of the Digital Infinite: Imagined Museums, New Media and Conflict Capitalism 268 Amanda Rogers 14 Afterword – Minoritised Memory and Affect in a Museology of Disaster 299 Katarzyna Pieprzak Index 308


2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7

Azem Palace, Damascus: the Haremlik 36 Azem Palace, Damascus: ‘Le Café Populaire’ 40 Azem Palace, Damascus: ‘Room of the Bride’ 41 Azem Palace, Damascus: map of Syria outlining the country’s fourteen governorates 46 Museum of Palmyra: the section on Bedouin tradition 47 Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Aleppo: scene representing the barbershop 48 ‘A Centre of Ancient Trade’, Bahrain National Museum 62 Oil painting by Lewis Morland, 1988, Bahrain National Museum 62 The Jelwa (‘The Good-luck Party’) and the preparation of the bride’s hair for the wedding, Bahrain National Museum 63 The Jelwa (‘The Good-luck Party’), two days before a wedding, Bahrain National Museum 63 ‘The Morning Gift’, Bahrain National Museum 64 ‘The Composition of the Group’, Part 1 of ‘The Wedding Orchestra’, Bahrain National Museum 64 ‘The Composition of the Group’, Part 2 of ‘The Wedding Orchestra’, Bahrain National Museum 64

f i g ures |  ix 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6

Oudayas Museum, Rabat: the patio 76 Oudayas Museum, Rabat: example of scenography 77 ‘For you, what are Moroccan museums?’ 78 ‘What do you feel in front of these masterpieces?’ 78 ‘For you, who visits Moroccan museums?’ 78 Locals wandering in the Jardins Andalous, outside the Oudayas Museum 80 5.1 A hotel named ‘Dergah’, near the Mevlana Museum in Konya 90 5.2 Sema ceremony at the Mevlana Cultural Center 91 5.3 Türbe of Mevlana Jelal ad-Din Rumi 93 5.4 A café named ‘Dergah’ in Hacıbektaş 96 5.5 Plaque depicting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Turkish flag 97 5.6 Posters with the English translation of Hacı Bektaş’s words and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 98 5.7 A commercial venue in front of the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum with an image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk 99 5.8 The sarcophagus of Hacı Bektaş Veli 100 5.9 The ‘hollow rock’ (deliklitaş) 101 7.1 The entrance to the museum 134 7.2 The plan of the museum exhibition 136 7.3 The grave of Maria Jacobsen 137 7.4 The canopy 138 7.5 The entrance floor and statues of orphans 138 7.6 Sculptures of orphans 139 7.7 Detail of the sculptures 140 7.8 The ‘Orphans of the Genocide’ hall 141 7.9 The white curtains 143 7.10 ‘Mama’s’ hall 144 8.1 A sign on a contested site in Hebron Old City 160 8.2 The Palestinian Museum 172 8.3 A museum display of photographs of the ‘Dome of the Rock’ by Palestinian contributors 172 8.4 An installation for ‘Jerusalem Lives’ on the museum terrace 176 9.1 Interior of one of the rooms in the old wing of the Coptic Museum 189

x |  f i g ure s 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5

Exterior view of the old wing of the Coptic Museum 190 The 1929 façade of the Coptic Museum 195 The façade of the Fatimid Mosque of al-Aqmar 196 The bust of Marcus Simaika Pasha at the entrance to the Coptic Museum in 1947 197 9.6 Interior of room in the new wing of the Coptic Museum 198 10.1 Bayt Dakira Essaouira 207 10.2 Synagogue Simon Attia 208 10.3 Jewish Museum of Casablanca 209 10.4 Flyer for Andalusias Festival, 2018 214 10.5 Celia and Haim Zafrani Centre for the Study of Islam and Judaism 218 10.6 Museum of Essaouira 219 10.7 The Mimouna Club 220 11.1 Sidi Mahrez Mosque, Tunis 235 11.2 Building of the Œuvre de Secours de l’Enfance, Tunis 236 11.3 Synagogue of Or-Thora, Tunis 236 12.1 The Halabja Museum 248 12.2 A Halabja Museum display that commemorates the Kurdish genocide 248 12.3 Halabja Martyrs’ Cemetery: sign at the entrance 249 12.4 Mass grave inside the Martyrs’ Cemetery commemorating the loss of 1,500 unidentified victims/martyrs 249 12.5 Individual markers for identified Kurdish martyrs in the cemetery 250 12.6 Statue of the Suffering Kurdish Woman/Mother 251 13.1 ISIS’s execution videos remixed into BDSM-style titillation 274 13.2 Jim Foley’s execution iterated for the promotion of ZBurger 275 13.3 A film documents destruction undertaken at the Mosul Museum 279 13.4 Hashtags direct readers of Dabiq magazine to Twitter feeds in which the advertised nasheed (a capella music) video will appear 284 13.5 Advertisement in Dabiq magazine alerting readers to a multilingual radio station created by ‘Islamic State’ 285 13.6 Weekly newsletter of ‘Islamic State’, al-Nabā’, presents a report of recent media output 286

f i g ures |  xi 13.7 Weekly newsletter of ‘Islamic State’, al-Nabā’, presents a report of publications released by ‘Islamic State’ publisher Al-Himma 13.8 OAN draws on recovered ISIS files to claim parallels between so-called ‘Islamic State’ and the American left 13.9 OAN recirculates imagery produced by ‘Islamic State’ of iconoclastic destruction inside the Mosul Museum

287 291 291



Justice and Development Party Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities Bahrain National Museum Council of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad Council of the Jewish Communities of Morocco Gulf Cooperation Council International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restauration of Cultural Property International Council of Museums L’Institut Français d’Archéologie et d’Art Musulmans Institut National d’Archéologie et d’Art Islamic State Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Israeli Security Forces Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Kurdistan Memory Programme Middle East and North Africa American Near East Relief

ac ronyms a nd a bbrevi a ti ons   |  xiii oPt Occupied Palestinian Territories PLO Palestinian Liberation Organisation UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNRWA United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees


I would like to begin by thanking the authors in this volume whose exper­ tise, enthusiasm and scholarly dedication made this possible. Thank you to the peer-reviewers whose constructive feedback strengthened the chapters presented in this book. I would like to extend my thanks to the University of California, Irvine, for hosting me as I developed the framework for the volume, and the Edinburgh University Press editors and reviewers for their interest in our work and the constructive feedback that they provided on the book proposal and the manuscript. Lastly, my sincere thanks to Stephen Pascoe, Julia Clancy-Smith, Trinidad Rico, Sargon Donabed, Sarina Wakefield and Katarzyna Pieprzak for their precious support and their gener­ ous insights throughout this intellectual journey. This volume is dedicated to all retired, unemployed and casual academics who continue to give their time to and spend resources for scholarly research and writing. Virginie Rey



Transliteration of Arabic and Turkish terms, personal names, place names and sources follows the International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES) guidelines. Words in colloquial Arabic are transliterated according to their pronunciation. Whenever possible, commonly accepted English forms are used for personal and place names.



Dina Ishak Bakhoum is an engineer and art historian specialising in cultural heritage conservation and management. She has worked for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (2004–12) and the American Research Center in Egypt (2001–4 & 2013–18) and teaches at the American University in Cairo. Her PhD dissertation from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne and Leiden University discusses the work of a committee established in Egypt to conserve the country’s Islamic and Coptic monuments that was active between the 1880s and 1950s. Aomar Boum is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles and a Faculty Fellow at the Université Internationale de Rabat. He is interested in the place of religious and ethnic minorities in post-independence Middle Eastern and North African nation-states. He is the author of Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco (2013) and co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Morocco (2016) and The Holocaust and North Africa (2018). Rhéa Dagher is a research affiliate at the University of Balamand (Department of Museology and Archaeology) and a researcher at Nadim Karam & Atelier xvi

notes on contri butors   |  xvii Hapsitus. She holds a BA in International Affairs and Diplomacy and is cur­ rently completing her MA in Museology and Cultural Heritage Management at the University of Balamand. Her main interests include minorities and countercultures in relations to sociopolitical movements. She was the organ­ iser of the exhibition ‘Lebanon from the 1930s up until its Independence’ (University of Balamand, 2014). Lucía Cirianni Salazar is a PhD candidate at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (Freie Universität Berlin). She has received her BA in Ethnology from the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico and holds an MA in Asian and African Studies from El Colegio de México. Her work revolves mainly around the subject of Sufi interpretations and experiences of modernity, especially in the context of Turkey and Mexico City. Her current research deals with the loss and reinvention of Sufi lodges in Turkey after their official closure. Francesca De Micheli is an independent researcher affiliated to laboratory 2l2 of Lorraine University. She has conducted ethnographic research in Italy, France, Morocco, Spain, Belgium and India and has collaborated on projects for various international organisations (European Commission, UNESCO, ICOMOS, Museum of Louvre, CERKAK). Her research interests include museography in the MENA region, museums and cultural integration and the relationship between heritage, museum and soft power. She is a co-author of the documentary EuropublicIslam: itinéraries d’une recherche européenne (2009–11) and Le patrimoine de l’autre (2019). Vera Eccarius-Kelly is a Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Siena College in Albany, NY. Her research interests focus on ethnonational, cultural and political dissent within Kurdish diaspora organisations, as well as transnational social movements in Latin American indigenous communities. She is the author of The Militant Kurds: A Dual Strategy for Freedom (2011) and the editor of Kurdish Autonomy and U.S. Foreign Policy: Change within Continuity (2019).

xviii |  notes on contr ib uto r s Zoe Holman is an Australian-British historian and journalist, specialising in the politics of the Middle East. She has a PhD on UK Foreign Policy in the Arab region from the University of Melbourne/School of Oriental and African Studies and her writing has been published in outlets including The Economist, London Review of Books, the Sydney Morning Herald, Open Democracy, VICE and Al Jazeera. She is currently based in Greece, working on migration-related issues. Rita Kalindjian is an artist, an archaeologist and a museologist. She has been the honorary director of the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum since its creation in 2015 and a member of the Executive Committee of the Cilicia Museum since 2012. She is currently a research affiliate in the Department of Archaeology and Museology, University of Balamand, where she is responsi­ ble for the collections of the Museum of Ethnography. Her research interests include Lebanese and Armenian cultural heritage and arts, especially from the Ottoman period, as well as rural, folk and ethnographic cultures in Lebanon. Habib Kazdaghli is Professor of Contemporary History and former Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of La Manouba University in Tunis. His research focuses on the contemporary history of Tunisia and the Maghreb, especially histories of the Communist movement and ethnic and religious minorities of Tunisia. His work also explores the history of tourism in Tunisia during the colonial era. He is the director of the Laboratoire de recherche sur le patrimoine pluriel de la Tunisie and co-ordi­ nates the activities of the History and Memory Group at the University of La Manouba-Tunis. Stephen Pascoe is a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Humanities at the University of California-Irvine. His dissertation examines the paths by which foreign-capitalised infrastructure companies in French Mandate Syria became targets of popular discontent, critique and boycott. He has published on the social and cultural history of cities, and on histories of urban planning in both Australia and the Middle East. He is a co-editor of Making Modernity from the Mashriq to the Maghreb (2015). His work has been published in Radical History Review, Arena Magazine and The Conversation.

notes on contri butors   |  xix Katarzyna Pieprzak is Professor of Francophone Literature, French Language and Comparative Literature at Williams College (USA). She is the author of Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Contemporary Morocco (2010), and co-editor of Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature, and Critical Interventions: Africanity and North Africa. Her current book in progress, Elements of Environment and The Traveling Bidonville, explores the relationship between aesthetics, built environment and political constitution in shanty towns across North Africa and France. Virginie Rey is an anthropologist of the Middle East and North Africa who specialises in museums and heritage. She co-edited the volume Making Modernity from the Mashrik to the Maghreb (2015). Her monograph Mediating Museums: Exhibiting Material Culture in Tunisia (1881–2015) (2019) analyses the trajectories of ethnographic museums in Tunisia across time and shifting cultural paradigms. Her research interests include postcolonial anthropology in the MENA region, the politics of representation, vernacular culture and minority and marginalised cultures, as well as religious spatiality in non-majority-Muslim countries. Amanda Rogers received her PhD from Emory University in 2013. She is currently NEH Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at Colgate University, as well as consultant on media, strategic com­ munications, and Non-State Armed Groups to the United Nations, and on ISIS propaganda for the US Department of State. Rogers is also a commenta­ tor on MENA political affairs, photographer and multi-media artist who regularly appears on such forums as Al Jazeera, CNN and the BBC. She is currently completing two monographs, The Semiotics of Revolution and Inside the Boardroom-battleground of Islamic State. Sarina Wakefield is a Lecturer in the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. Previously, she lectured at Zayed University (Dubai) and UCL Qatar. Her primary research focuses on critical heritage studies and museology of the Gulf. More broadly, she is interested in the politics of transnational museologies, especially in relation to globalisation, universal­ ism, franchise museums, and the relationships between heritage and margin­

xx | notes on contr ib uto r s alised actors and communities. She co-edited the volume Museums in Arabia: Transnational Practices and Regional Processes (2016) and is a co-editor of the Routledge book series Cultural Heritage, Art and Museums in the Middle East. John Thabiti Willis is an Associate Professor of African History and Africana Studies at Carleton College in Minnesota. His research explores the cultural and social factors that have shaped the history of Africans and their descend­ ants in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds.



he question of how museums address the claims of their local popu­ lations for inclusive representation has begun to preoccupy societies across the world in recent times. With sub-national and transnational groups increasingly demanding recognition of their cultural, social or religious par­ ticularity, identity questions have led to forthright and vigorous assertions and conflicts. However, the nature of these demands and the ways in which museums respond to them vary significantly from one region to the next. This volume explores how museums in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as exhibitionary sites, institutions and spaces, have engaged with pluralism, marginality and social and cultural change. On what terms has plurality been approached in Middle Eastern and North African museums? To what extent have museums provided a suitable canvas on which minority cultures can explore their heritage and express their voices? By what processes can narratives within museums change and stereotypes be challenged, and to what kinds of ends are identities being deployed? Societies of the countries forming the MENA region – broadly consisting, in this volume, of those stretching from Morocco to Iran – have historically been remarkably culturally diverse. They include populations from highly heterodox social, cultural, ethnic and religious identifications, whether those 1

2 | vi rg i ni e r e y are understood as originating from the region or being more recent additions to it. And yet, a foreign visitor taking a tour of a sample of museums across the Middle East and North Africa could easily walk away with the impression that the populations living in this region of the world are relatively homoge­ neous and not too different from each other. Indeed, until recently, museums of the MENA region have made little effort to accommodate diversity within their walls. With the possible exception of Algeria and Morocco, which have been more tolerant of linguistic and cultural differences in their respective cultural policies, most countries have overwhelmingly resorted to familiar, majoritarian metanarratives of identity, selecting from Pan-Arabism, territo­ rial nationalism or Islam as their dominant cultural paradigms. This sclerotic tendency has led many scholars working on cultural programming and herit­ age in the MENA region to analyse museums as static ‘instruments of social control’ (Davis 1994). Such a characterisation implies that museums produce and give authority to cultural categories designed to enhance governance on the one hand, and unified citizenship on the other, to the exclusion of all other concerns. It further suggests that despite Middle Eastern countries having achieved self-representation upon independence, this representation has remained highly controlled by the state and has often been manipulated by absolute monarchies or authoritarian regimes in search of legitimacy. Notwithstanding their contributions to understanding official, ­government-mediated politics of heritage, such state-centric interpretations need to be regarded with caution. For one thing, they tell us nothing about the significance of museums in people’s lives or the role they assume in each society’s public culture. They rarely consider the views and experiences of the museums’ self-practitioners – the curators, museum staff, architects and visitors who pass through their walls – or their detractors. Furthermore, they fail to capture the contestations and negotiations involved in the creation of exhibitions, thus implying that museums are merely passive, representational spaces and that museum-making – that is, meaning-making – is a straightfor­ ward process, orchestrated by all-powerful, autocratic states operating beyond the pale of local resistance. This volume proposes an altogether different framework for understand­ ing museums in the MENA region. It approaches the topic of inclusive repre­ sentation by trying to think about museum production from the ground up,

e ng a g i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  3 from the perspectives of the people involved in their making. The contributing authors are attentive to local articulations of this politics of representation, to the points of controversy around which debates on the ground have been articulated, and to how these debates have resonated with regional and global frames of reference. They show how museums negotiate social tensions, and attempt to represent communities that may previously have been excluded or marginalised, thereby pushing the boundaries of understanding of social inclusion and political community, whether national or otherwise. While most chapters in this volume focus on contemporary museum practice, sev­ eral contributions examine the historical roots of the region’s museography, whether imperial, colonial or postcolonial. Towards a Museographic Paradigm for Museums in the MENA Region In the Anglo-Saxon world, understandings of the relationship between museums and identities have predominantly been forged through the prism offered by the ‘New Museology’ movement (Vergo 1989). Drawing upon the social revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, ‘New Museology’ called into question the authority of museums on issues of ethnicity and culture, demonstrating the profound extent to which museums have been impli­ cated in the folklorisation, trivialisation and exoticisation of non-dominant cultures from home and from overseas (Ames 1992; Clifford 1987; Porter 1988). According to the ‘New Museology’ consensus, museums should be sites of inclusion that question hegemonic understandings of identity, while speaking to the community as a whole. They therefore assume an activist agenda of social responsibility, seeking to instigate debates within society. The landmark edited volumes Exhibiting Cultures (Karp and Lavine 1991) and Museums and Communities (Karp et al. 1992) acted as figureheads of this movement, encouraging new research on how museums could challenge their patriarchal and colonial legacies and be transformed into self-critical institu­ tions capable of creating bonds between, offering support to and working hand in hand with various communities and cultures. In the years following this revolutionary upheaval in the field, many scholars have documented how museums have made substantial efforts to challenge the prevailing social values in their host societies, decentring the dominant discourses of the past through variegated strategies, most importantly the involvement of members

4 | vi rg i ni e r e y of minority communities, who are now routinely consulted to influence how their cultures are represented and interpreted (Clifford 1997; Davis 1999; Simpson 1996; Witcomb 2003). All too often, these studies do not pay close enough attention to how museums are influenced by local contexts, assuming that museographic prac­ tices developed during late twentieth-century Western liberal-democratic experiences of multiculturalism can be applied anywhere in the world. Scholarly work published on cultural representation and patrimonial prac­ tices outside this framework – on Central Europe, Latin America, South East Asia and the Pacific – indicates, however, that the axiomatic paradigm of ‘the museum as contact zone’ (Clifford 1998) might adopt a different expression, and be inappropriate, irrelevant or completely inexistent in other cultural set­ tings (Bhatti 2012; Healy and Witcomb 2006; Kreps 2003; Mathur 2017). In France, for example, Lisa Bernasek (2010) elucidates how the epistemo­ logical shift undergone by the collections at the Musée du Quai Branly, from ethnographic data to ‘First Arts’ (Les Arts Premiers), although it could be critiqued as reproducing questionable colonial outlooks, was envisaged by the French team as a move towards decolonisation. This mutual misrecognition becomes especially salient in the context of transnational/cultural collabora­ tions on museums, including museums of the MENA region (Exell and Rico 2016; Exell and Wakefield 2016), exposing, as Christina Kreps (2003: 12) argues, the existence of different ‘museological behaviour’, or even ‘museolo­ gies’ (Bhatti 2012). This demonstrates clearly that museums are socially and historically embedded institutions which, even if they are influenced by it, cannot so easily conform to a ‘global hierarchy of value’ (Herzfeld 2004: 2), that is, in this case, an increasingly globally homogeneous set of heritage practices. How, therefore, should we approach the construction of identity in museums of the MENA region? The contributions to this volume suggest a number of productive routes. We see that museum practice in the MENA region is influenced by a set of pressures and forces of resistance unique to this region (as well as specific to each local context of production), leading to unconventional and unexpected patrimonial directions. In this volume, Katarzyna Pieprzak coins the term ‘museology of disaster’ to describe a praxis dominated by an urgency to neutralise the many adversities facing societies

e ng a g i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  5 in this region – from wars, civil violence, political unrest and dictatorship to fundamentalism, terrorism and embargos – and to prevent others from emerging. She argues that lingering traumas and fast-shifting political con­ texts have made it difficult for museums in the region to be agents of social change and inclusion. Instead, they have been called upon to provide a sense of national stability and continuity. However, additional forces also influence representational paradigms and curatorial decisions. They include the politics of modernisation, tourism, urbanisation, migration and globalisation, as well as the persistence of local cultural taboos and culturally specific responses to museums and understandings of their role within society. These understand­ ings are inherently connected to each society’s dominant intellectual and political positioning vis-à-vis diversity, class, race and gender. In the case of Tunisia, for example, I discuss elsewhere how the idea of the museum as a place of social inclusion and cultural empowerment has mostly translated into initiatives based on the Republican model of égalité rather than diversité (Rey 2019). According to this paradigm, inclusivity in the museum is organ­ ised around ‘sameness’, to the detriment of ‘difference’. Another important factor to consider when mapping out the museo­ logical traditions of the region is the strong connection between museums and heritage (in Arabic, turāth). The politics of ultra-patrimonialisation of the 1990s led to the dominance of a highly patrimonial reading of culture – depicting it as inherently ‘traditional’ rather than as dynamic – which has often prevented museums from being the partners of social progress and intellectual advancement. Lastly, as Francesca De Micheli and Sarina Wakefield rightly point out in relation to Morocco and the UAE, it is impor­ tant to remember that museum visiting is still struggling to take hold as a leisure activity within the region, with museums often being considered by locals as colonial and/or elitist institutions. Low visitation combined with a general lack of funding for the cultural sector limits the capacity of museums to explore new narratives and to act as agents of social change. The museums analysed in this book reflect these many currents, tensions and predicaments. Authors shed light on how identities are negotiated inside museums, as well as the contradictions and opportunities that museums, in their spatial, institutional and exhibitionary features, have created for margin­ alised groups. As we shall see, they show that museums of the MENA region,

6 | vi rg i ni e r e y whether intentionally or otherwise, have participated in the (re)production of social and cultural inequalities. Many have muzzled diversity, engaging instead in the manufacturing of normative identities that often align with national creeds. As I develop in the next section, this is in large part because the museum in this region has long been considered as a partner in the propagation of the nation-state, rather than an institution in the service of its population. On the other hand, we see that museums can provide and have provided a space through which local communities have achieved greater visibility and have voiced marginalised narratives and identities, whether by using conventional exhibitionary practices or unofficial ones. In some instances, they have offered a form of cultural agency for underrepresented communi­ ties. In the most tragic cases, they have provided a bulwark against total erasure. As the volume’s contributions highlight, this role is an especially important one in a region in which democratic rights and freedom of speech remain imperilled, where history books and school curricula are highly controlled and non-representative of non-hegemonic groups, and where some minority communities continue to face social discrimination and existential threats. Museums, Heritage and Identity Construction in the MENA Region To properly understand the contemporary challenges facing museums in the region in their construction of cultural identities, we need to situate them within a larger historical trajectory of heritage development and exhibitionary practices. In the Middle East and North Africa, practices of collection and heritage preservation operating inside a Western-style ‘authorised heritage discourse’, as Laurajane Smith (2006) terms it, developed in the nineteenth century as a result of a burgeoning interest on the part of Ottoman and European intellectuals for Near East archaeology and collecting (Braae 2001; Mejcher-Atassi and Schwartz 2012). In the beginnings of heritage preservation, material artefacts were primarily collected (most often looted) by self-proclaimed archaeologists, intellectuals, soldiers, administrators and travellers, leading to the passing of stringent laws from the Ottoman Empire to prevent any heritage evasion (Reid 2003). While rooms dedicated to indigenous material culture (usually called

e ng a g i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  7 ‘Muslim Arts’ or ‘Islamic Antiquities’) began to be established in museums and libraries in the late nineteenth century, until the early twentieth century, local and foreign research concentrated almost exclusively on archaeological remains dating from antiquity. In the context of colonial Algeria, Nabila Oulebsir (2004) explains that Roman and Greek archaeological remains were appropriated in nationalistic terms, as remnants of ‘French’ history. Their presence in North Africa served to justify the French colonial mission and encourage new settlers to come. In line with this trend, Ottoman muse­ ums featured military spolia and antiquities long before they turned to the ‘Islamic’ collections with which their culture would have been more readily associated (Shaw 2003). Interest in indigenous material culture developed in earnest in the early twentieth century. This was connected to a change in approach to colo­ nial governance more generally, and the development of a new taste for ‘Orientalist’ aesthetics (Benjamin 2003). In colonial museums, objects were classified according to their purpose (jewellery, clothing, etc.) or their manu­ facture (glass, pottery, wood, etc.) and were categorised following the colonial ethnographic imagining of the region: Bedouin/Berber/Muslim/Arab/Jewish. Artefacts were rarely exhibited as national culture but as ethnographic data and/or decorative art, ultimately servicing military and economic agendas within the colonies and outside them. If patrimonial development followed different paths in each country depending on the specificity of political and economic circumstances, we observe that conservation and exhibition increased dramatically in the early twentieth century, following the development of a more organised and con­ nected colonial heritage network (including the development of modern surveying technologies that assisted archaeological research) and the creation of the first independent nation-states (Watenpaugh 2003). Upon achiev­ ing independence, Arab countries capitalised on cultural institutions and production. In the 1950s and 1960s, states such as Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq and Syria established governmental bodies that granted public funding for the arts, while in the Arabian Peninsula and some countries of the Levant heritage production and preservation took shape later, in the 1970s. The mid-1950s also saw the monumental understanding of heritage challenged and the emergence of a new interest in ‘minor forms’ of culture, variously

8 | vi rg i ni e r e y known in the region as turāth sha‘abī (popular heritage), fūlklūr (folklore) or al-funnūn wa-l-taqalīd al-sha‘biyya (popular arts and traditions).1 In the context of early independence, museums worked to support the developmentarist policies pursued by the governing elites. They were under­ stood as key sites for public education and cultural socialisation, designed to instil among citizens of new countries a sense of belonging and direction. Concomitantly, museums served as active nation-building instruments (along with iconography, postage stamps, bank notes and festivals) to articulate national narratives and forge a distinct relationship between population and territory, even when that land was often understood as a fraction of a greater area of reference: the Arab Nation, Greater Syria, the Maghrib or the Muslim Umma. In fact, despite enduring dreams of unification, the Arab elites of the countries carved from the defunct Ottoman Empire profoundly disagreed on what patrimonial genealogy (Arab, Islamic, Mesopotamian, Phoenician, Pharaonic, tribal) they should use to construct national mythologies (Maffi and Daher 2014; Meskell 2002; Sivan 1995). During the first decades following independence, the strong influence of Pan-Arabism, on the one hand, and secularism, on the other, left little room for the representation of diversity in public culture. Ruled by a single party from 1924 to 1946, the Republic of Turkey embarked on a jour­ ney of Turkification, secularisation and modernisation of society (Özyürek 2007). Iran followed a similar path, based on an Aryan reading of the nation (Azgarzadeh 2007). In the Levant, the Maghreb and the GCC, most new countries drafted constitutions that identified the nation as Arab, with Arabic as the national language and Islam as the state religion. Within that scheme, other cultures were largely coerced into a homogeneous, all-encompassing national imaginary. We see that mechanic clearly at play in North Africa and the Levant, with the presentation of nomadic tribes as the mythical guardians of an Arab ethos (Massad 2001; Prager 2012). Non-hegemonic cultures were rarely presented as active and living forces within society, but rather as pre-modern traditions in need of preservation. In national program­ ming, they were often relegated to festivals and ethnographic museums where their rituals and traditions could be conserved and, ultimately, controlled (Kastrinou 2016; Van Harmersveld 2010). In that sense, the patrimoni­ alisation of minority cultures was more about fencing in these cultures than

e ng a g i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  9 safeguarding them, and it often went hand in hand with strong social reform programmes on the ground (settlement programmes, Arabisation of educa­ tion, etc.) which had the effect of eradicating the very social practices that the state claimed to preserve. In this volume, for example, Lucía Cirianni Salazar demonstrates that the museumification of Sufism was a way to physically signify its irrelevance in a secularising and modernising Turkey. However, it is important to remember that, however biased they may appear to us today, when repositioned in their historical context many of the first genera­ tion of museums in the region were considered vital and dynamic forms of cultural resistance against Western imperialism. As Stephen Pascoe and I underline in Chapter 2, the ethnographic museum of Syria established in the wake of independence clearly worked to reclaim an identity believed to have been disparaged and bastardised by colonialism and displaced by processes of modernisation. The process of cultural ossification and purging that started in the mid-twentieth century accelerated further with the coming to power of the autocratic regimes of the 1970s and 1980s and their claims to existential legitimacy (Baram 1991; Davis 1996, 2005; Meskell 2002; Valter 2001). In some instances, the state’s uncompromised approaches to heritage led to the further marginalisation of already vulnerable communities (Mitchell 2001). In others, as Natalie Peutz rightly points out (2017), heritage and museums have been casualties of the various wars that have plagued the region since the 1970s – in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Yemen – among many other devastations. In more extreme cases, some communities saw their culture plainly suppressed or usurped. In Chapter 8, Zoe Holman broaches a process of patrimonial genocide in the occupied Palestinian territories stretching from the looting of Palestinian heritage and its appropriation as Israeli culture to ongoing archaeological digs in the West Bank in violation of UNESCO protocols. At the same time, the 1970s and 1980s witnessed developments that paved the way for a greater representation of minority communities within the cultural landscape of the MENA region. Indeed, the 1970s represented a period of awareness of the necessity for governments across the region to revisit their relationship with heritage. Previously considered as an academic field, heritage started to be understood as an important factor in economic,

10 | vi rg i ni e r e y social and cultural development. This understanding was largely encouraged by global heritage players, such as UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), ALECSO (Arab League Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and ICOM (International Council of Museums), with major interventions in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. But patrimonialisation was also led from within each country’s cultural sector, where vocal intellectual figures were encourag­ ing a heritage-based approach to cultural management. This approach was developed concomitantly with, and as a prerequisite for, the development of a stronger tourism industry with its new focus on cultural tourism (Daher 2007). The heritage boom of the 1970s and 1980s led to the (re)articulation of the two prevailing ideologies in the region, Pan-Arabism and Pan-Islamism, through transregional patrimonial activities marshalled by ALECSO (1970) and ISESCO (1979). At the same time, the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, coupled with a general distancing from Pan-Arabism in its most confrontational form, contributed to the emergence of new patrimonial nodes – ‘the Mediterranean’, ‘Al-Andalus’, or ‘the Silk Road’ – in which hitherto minoritised narratives have found some visibility in state-sponsored museums and cultural events. In Chapter 10, Aomar Boum shows how, since the 1990s in Morocco, Jewish culture has been conveniently repackaged in a ‘New Seville’ patrimonial framework, inviting convivence between cultures. This trend culminated in 2003, with the recognition of intangible heritage by UNESCO and the subsequent international celebration of cultural and lin­ guistic diversity worldwide, sometimes resulting in a civilisational race to gain international status and capital (Meskell 2015). This is clearly exemplified in Morocco’s care for its Jewish and Amazigh heritage. In Iraq, it materialised in the construction of memorial museums in recognition of past traumas (see Vera Eccarius-Kelly in this volume). At the same time, the state-led politics of ultra-patrimonialisation, tour­ ism development and economic liberalisation carried out across the region over the last three decades have encouraged local communities, including minoritised groups, to become more actively engaged with cultural heritage, independently of state patronage, through the creation of associations, festivals

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  11 and museums. Writing on Jordan, for example, Irene Maffi (2007) explores the phenomenon of private collections exhibited in domestic settings or in privately-owned museums. She shows how displays present narratives that are often in opposition to the official vision of Jordanian identity defended by the state. In this context, exhibiting material culture, she argues, becomes a means of entering political debates without having to join the conventional networks, such as political parties, unions or professional associations. Maffi shows how private collections contribute to create new imaginaries – national, tribal, local, religious, etc. – within the official Jordanian ‘memoryscape’. Likewise, in her seminal monograph Imagined Museums, Katarzyna Pieprzak (2010) gives several examples of counter-museums in which different narra­ tives about art and identity in Morocco have been staged, giving voice to new understandings of what belonging means, well beyond the national discursive space. The recent revolutionary movements that have convulsed the Middle East and North Africa are yet to deliver the democratic bounties to which they aspired. Nonetheless, for all their unexpected ramifications and limi­ tations, they have been successful in re-opening in a more urgent fashion questions of state–society relations, civic equality, free speech and pluralism in the region, generating new and engaged scholarship on these topics. In particular, they have drawn public attention to, and created opportunities for, so-called ‘minority groups’ across the region, including ethnic and religious minorities, as well as the socially marginalised ones – the disabled, women, homeless people, LGBTQI communities, migrants and refugees. This con­ tested climate has provided marginalised communities with an opportunity to destabilise longstanding cultural equilibriums and bring their claims to the fore of public culture through political and associative channels, as well as patrimonial practices (Rey 2018; Watenpaugh 2016). The project of the Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage outlined by Habib Kazdaghli in this volume is a perfect example of this trend. In this case, the museum has been marshalled by members of the Tunisian Jewish community to support the democratic ideals fought for during the Jasmine Revolution. As the MENA region continues to experience profound geopoliti­ cal, economic and social transformations, heritage, with its strong ties to identity and civilisational cachet, will continue to be a ‘terrain’ on which

12 | vi rg i ni e r e y ‘­twenty-first-century cultural battles are fought’ (Peutz 2017). Within this scheme, museums are likely to be mobilised by both governmental and civic actors to ‘mediate’ new social and cultural realities (Rey 2019). Karen Exell (2018) and Mariam al–Hammadi (2018), for example, have discussed how the redefinition of Qatari nationalism following the embargo launched on Qatar by its neighbours in 2017 has opened new museographic perspec­ tives. Likewise, in Tunisia, both the project of a Museum of Democracy launched by the Labo Democratique and the Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage, covered in Chapter 11 by Habib Khazdali, suggest that museums are being taken ever more seriously by non-minority and minority elites to make authoritative claims on social questions. Minority, Minoritisation and (Identity) Politics in the Middle East and North Africa Talking about ‘minorities’ in the context of the Middle East and North Africa is an uneasy task. It requires recognising that the term can be mobilised along multiple possible axes. In its most historically widespread usage, the term has been used to designate ethnic (Armenians, Circassians, Kurds, etc.) and religious (Alawites, Copts, Jews, Shia Muslims, etc.) identities that are only standing as ‘minorities’ in relation to the dominant Muslim (Arab/ Turkish/Persian) identity in the region. As several authors have pointed out (Kymlicka and Pföstl 2014; Shami and Naguib 2013), these cultural catego­ ries, while providing an initial framework for discussion, tend towards static and simplistic understandings of the communities they purport to represent. Such categories are remnants of the ‘mosaic’ anthropological framework used by Orientalists to describe societies of the Middle East and North Africa. Carried over uncritically into contemporary analysis, they impede the capac­ ity to analyse the ongoing cultural changes experienced by these identities, as well as the complexity of their meaning in situ. All too often, ethnic and religious ‘minorities’ are posited as ‘questions’ and ‘issues’ (Benjamen 2018) and reduced to an equation with sectarian­ ism. Divisions and hostility between ethnic and religious groups and their weaving into local politics have long histories in the MENA region (Tomass 2016). However, religious tensions and sectarian politics were exacerbated as European powers became more implicated in the politics of the region in the

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  13 nineteenth century. As Ussama Makdisi argues in his landmark study (2000), in the multi-confessional societies of the Levant, the adversarial encounter between Christian Europe and the Islamic Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century profoundly altered the meaning of religion, ultimately positioning religious identity as ‘the only viable marker of political reforms and the only authentic basis for political claims’ (Makdisi 2000: 2). In the context of emerging nationalist movements based on shared ethnic, religious and cultural characteristics, sectarianism became an ‘act of interpretation’ articulated to justify historical and political rights by local communities themselves and the foreign powers claiming to act on their behalf and in their defence (Bashkin 2009). Colonial intervention was instrumental in shaping these cultural categories. In the case of the Egyptian protectorate, British colonial administration elevated minorities such as the Coptic Christians to influential positions. In the Levant, the Mandate system that replaced the Ottoman Empire was premised on the need to ‘assist’ states in their national endeavour and ‘protect’ minorities, especially Christians. In Syria, as Benjamin White (2011) and others have demonstrated, the organisation of the country into a series of religiously determined statelets was premised on an ethno-linguistic-religious representation of Syrian identity which has had longstanding consequences to this day, including in state-led patrimonial depictions. Similarly, Laura Robson (2011) shows how the organisation of the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims into legal categories worked to exacerbate intercommunal discriminations in British Palestine. In these and many other ways, colonially produced sectarianism has continued to inform the politics of the region well past the formal end of Western imperialism. Alongside attempts to promote a territorialised, albeit ambiguous, national identity, sectarianism has been intentionally mobilised by postcolonial elites as a ruling strategy since the mass politicisation of the early twentieth century (Phillips 2015). In Chapter 2, Pascoe and Rey discuss the reframing of the mosaic conception of identity developed by the French into what they call a ‘toponymical’ framework of social analysis at the Azem Palace museum of Damascus, after independence. In this volume, the term ‘minority’ does not automatically refer to an ethnic or religious community, nor does it necessarily denote population size. We consider ‘minority’ from an anthropological vantage point, that is,

14 | vi rg i ni e r e y in terms of power disparities. According to the oft-cited definition postulated by Louis Wirth (1947), a minority group is any group of individuals ‘who, because of their physical or social or cultural characteristics are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination’. In other words, minority–majority relations in any given society are guided by relations of power and processes of relative exclusion and inclusion of certain groups from mainstream society. The term ‘minority groups’ refers to groups that are subordinate, or that lack power regardless of gender, national origin, religious belief, skin colour, culture or size. As Thabiti Willis and Sarina Wakefield show in their respective chapters, in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), it is the tribal, indigenous minority that controls the means of representation: although a minority in numerical terms, national populations of Bahrainis and Emiratis possess political, social and economic power in terms that resemble majority power in classic sociological schemas like Wirth’s. In this context, we see that it is not minorities that are ‘held in lower esteem, debarred from certain opportunities or excluded from participation in national life’ as Wirth describes. On the contrary, it is the majority of migrant communities performing unskilled labour who hold this disadvantaged status. As many scholars have argued, such processes of inclusion and exclusion are centred on intangible and masked boundaries that are largely unarticulated, multidimensional, layered and changing (Bourdieu 1979; Vobruba 2002; Yasmeen and Markovic 2016). For example, exclusion may occur because the minority chooses to disregard the majority. However, in this volume, contributions tend to show that, in staging their own heritage, minority cultures do not automatically claim a separation or even a distancing from the majority (the hegemonic group). Rather, in a region where nationalism plays an elevated role in the politics of representation, minority cultures often seek a genealogical recognition within the broader national narrative. Also, internal disagreements and exclusions may happen within a minority group, with some members being identified as not conforming with the norms. We can see this dynamic at play in Vera Eccarius-Kelly’s chapter in this volume, as she explores the disjunction between a Kurdish museum imagined from the perspective of Iraqi Kurdistan and one imagined by the North American

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  15 diaspora. Similarly, Zoe Holman, in Chapter 8, questions the ability of the Palestinian Museum to present its aspiration of a unified Palestinian narrative and history given the fractured and dispersed nature of its community and its heritage. As communities petition for inclusion in narratives that exclude them, they articulate new narratives that in turn exclude others. It is also important to consider that opposition to exclusion does not necessarily translate to inclusion. Indeed, essays in this volume suggest that what Nasser Rabbat (2018) calls the ‘right to heritage’ does not necessarily translate into an improved social reality for minority groups, nor does it lead to any form of official recognition within society. But it may well, nonethe­ less, contribute to better visibility. As Rhéa Dagher and Rita Kalindjian con­ clude in their chapter on the Aram Bezikian Museum dedicated to Armenian culture in Lebanon, in a country that fails to create a space for the Armenian experience within the national narrative, the museum becomes a crucial bul­ wark against cultural amnesia. Last but not least, we should remember that in many cases ‘minority’ is a category that is not always claimed but rather (wrongfully) imputed to communities. It does not automatically correspond to their perception of the situation. The designation of ‘minority status’ when applied in such contexts often works to minimise and/or trivialise the cultural, social and economic contributions of a group within a given society, ultimately resulting in its disempowerment. For instance, in her chapter, Zoe Holman clearly shows how Israel continues to frame Palestinians as a demographic ‘minority’, even though they constitute the majority population in the West Bank. Similarly, Dina Ishak Bakhoum demonstrates that Coptic communities in Egypt do not consider themselves as ‘minorities’ but rather as authentic indigenous occupants of the country, and are fighting for their rights to be recognised as such. The essays in this book offer a critical apparatus with which to explore questions of inclusion and exclusion in museums of the MENA region. They suggest that rather than thinking about inclusion and exclusion as binary opposites, it is more productive to envisage them as discursive categories through which agents and objects travel. They draw attention to several critical factors in the construction and the reproduction of social categories in museums of the MENA region. Of the utmost importance have been

16 | vi rg i ni e r e y economic disparity, on the one hand, and immigration, on the other. These two factors are especially salient in the context of the GCC, with its combina­ tion of huge national wealth from oil and the importation of large labour forces to meet the demands of the resource-driven economy. Labourers come predominantly from Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, while others originate from the region itself: from Yemen, Syria, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. Despite long-lasting ties and durable contributions to their host countries, diasporic communities face ongoing social and economic segregation, which underscores highly stratified social relations in the GCC. In the museum, these hierarchies are evident in the near-total absence of the experiences of migrant communities in museo­ graphic schemes. In the context of Qatar, for example, Karen Exell (2016: 25–50) shows that social and cultural complexity of almost any kind has been absent from museums, promoting instead a teleological experience of moder­ nity and wealth built around the work and sagacity of the ruling families. But museums can be exclusive in other ways. In Chapter 6, Sarina Wakefield sug­ gests that imposing museum architecture and high entrance fees are deterring factors for many migrant labourers in the UAE. Feeling excluded from these cultural sites, they instead use the magnetic pull of the museum in other, non–authorised ways: gathering outside it. Francesca De Micheli reaches a similar conclusion in her chapter on class reproduction and museography in Rabat. As museums continue to pitch for an educated elite of professionals and intellectuals, she demonstrates that low-income local residents of Rabat prefer to use the adjacent gardens as their sites of leisure. Another important dimension to consider when exploring inclusion and exclusion in museums of the MENA region has been the social processes of emigration, dispossession and forced dislocation due to racially and reli­ giously exclusionary practices, war, economic hardship or authoritarianism. The region has played host to some of the largest refugee populations in the world. These include Palestinians displaced across the region; Iraqis, especially in Syria and Jordan; Eritreans in Soudan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia; Somalis in Yemen; Syrians in Lebanon and Turkey (Chatty 2010, 2018). Several of the contributions to this volume discuss concrete cases of displacement and tease out their implications for museum representation. Rita Kalindjian and Rhéa Dagher examine the politics of memory among Armenian populations

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  17 in Lebanon, descendants of the survivors of the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Habib Kazdaghli, meanwhile, discusses how the creation of Israel in 1948 led to a mass exodus of the Tunisian Jewry to Israel, Europe and North America. The recent project of a museum dedicated to Jewish culture in Tunisia has to navigate this difficult history. Authors in this volume clearly show that forced migration has had mixed consequences for heritage and identity. In some cases, it has provided an economic and political lever with which to increase the visibility of minor­ ity communities, especially when local cultural programming is financed by or planned around diaspora communities. We see this articulated in the case of Jewish heritage in Morocco and Tunisia (see Boum and Kazdaghli in this volume). On the other hand, emigration has led to a fragmentation of patrimonial knowledge and cultural experience, causing further aggrava­ tions and feelings of cultural injustice, as well as serious dissention between the diaspora and the community at home. Vera Eccarius-Kelly unpacks this intricate process in her chapter on the Kurdish diaspora in North America and Germany. The question of gender roles, relations and identities in the MENA region has attracted much scholarly attention since the 1990s, yielding insight into the construction of female and male identities, their positioning within soci­ ety and their interconnectedness with other social and cultural markers such as class, religion, ethnicity and political ideologies (Abu-Lughod 1998; Al Ali and Tas 2018; Shami 1993; Joseph and Slyomovics 2001). Despite these important studies, however, the dynamics of gender in the context of the museum remains largely underdeveloped. In her pioneer work on Jordan and Morocco, Carol Malt (2005, 2013) uses postcolonial feminist theory to dem­ onstrate that the museum as an institution can be effective in the economic, cultural and political empowerment of women. However, we may observe that as exhibitionary sites, the majority of museums in the region have until recently engaged in patriarchal and heterocentric depictions of gender rela­ tions and identities, obscuring the experiences of women, not to mention the very existence of LGBTQ communities (still criminalised in most MENA countries). Using Foucault’s work on governmentality, Thabiti Willis’s essay in this volume examines how the folkloric exhibits at the National Museum of Bahrain work as a cultural ‘lexicography’ (Bou Ali 2016) of the

18 | vi rg i ni e r e y nation in which citizens are assigned clear and stratified ­positions in society. Arab-Muslim Bahraini women are presented as engaging in traditional exist­ ences dominated by religion and family concerns. However, Willis’s chapter demonstrates that, when considered in intersection with race, gender can produce paradoxical power relations. He shows how, in contrast to the gen­ eral depiction of blackness in the Bahraini national museum as equating with slavery, black women are shown in other roles. As important performers in traditional weddings, they are afforded access to privileged royal circles that are otherwise denied to the rest of the population. Gender, in other words, affords an intimacy and familiarity that can transcend the limitations of race. For reasons of space, many minorities are missing from the table of contents of this volume. These include certain religious groups (among them Yezidis, Bahais, Druzes, Nusairites, etc.), ethnic identifications (Bedouins, Berbers, Maronites, Arameans, Circassians, Turkomans, etc.) and social cat­ egories (children, nomads, disabled people, LGBTQ communities, women, etc.). With this volume, we hope to generate more research on cultural repre­ sentation in museums, as well as marginalised and unofficial heritage practices and narratives. It is our hope that museums of the MENA region will gain more prominence and consideration as useful archives and microcosms from which to read contestations, claims and negotiations about culture, belonging and authenticity in the MENA region. Outline of the Book The volume is divided into three parts. The essays grouped under the first theme of ‘Exhibiting Minorities’ grapple with the exhibition of minority cultures in state-led museums. Part I opens with a discussion about the reconfiguration of the Azem Palace of Damascus from a multivalent site of knowledge production during the French Mandate into the first folklore museum of Syria in 1953. Rey and Pascoe argue that the decolonisation of the site led to a partial reimagining of the cultural categories developed by the French, from compact minorities to ‘toponymical identities’. The authors suggest that the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions at the Azem Palace was a cultural institution with a mission: to incite the produc­ tion of new taxonomies adequate to changing political and social contexts, to offer opportunities for cultural resistance against colonial designs and to

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  19 unearth a culture believed to have been distorted and marginalised by the colonial powers. In this last context, folklore was considered a precious mate­ rial in which local elites could undertake an archaeology, so to speak, of what they considered as ‘authentic’ national culture and history, before the trauma of Western colonisation. In Chapter 3, Thabiti Willis explores issues of race and gender in the National Museum of Bahrain. Despite a strong cultural presence across the Arabian Peninsula, the presence of black people in museums of the GCC is scarce. They are traditionally depicted labouring as craftsmen, builders and members of pearling crews, working in the service of the Arab olive-skinned ruling class of the Arabian Peninsula. The National Museum of Bahrain provides an additional contextualisation. In the Hall of Traditions, the sacred shrine Bahraini vernacular culture, visitors can see pictures and mannequins of black women musicians playing the drum during wedding celebrations of Arab/tribal Bahrainis. Willis argues that, while it is still indicative of inequali­ ties between the citizens of Bahrain, portraying black people in what he calls ‘the performance of servitude’, this depiction can be read as a partnership of some kind between the Arab/tribal/Muslim inhabitants of the land and the rest of the population. As the only non-tribal figures represented in the Hall of Traditions, the black representatives provide a form of acknowledgement of their longstanding presence in the region. Expanding the discussion on museums and social hierarchisation, Francesca De Micheli proposes an analysis of museums and class construction in Morocco. Drawing from an exhibition held at the Oudayas Museum in Rabat, she shows how, in their very institutional nature, Moroccan museums are working to create marginalisation within Moroccan society. In Morocco, the museum started as a colonial venture. After independence was achieved, the local intellectual elites turned away from this institution considered as a remnant of Western imperialism and cultural deprecation. It was only in the 1970s and 1980s that museums began to be reinvested with some cultural legitimacy. Despite important financial investment and efforts to diversify the museum offer in Morocco, museums have had difficult times fostering a domestic interest. De Micheli explains that this lacuna, while the consequence of several combined factors, primarily relies on an endur­ ing perception of museums as elitist institutions. In their holdings, their

20 | vi rg i ni e r e y pricing and their general setting, museums, she argues, make little effort to attract a non-specialist audience. Here, De Micheli is pointing at a recurring problem within the postcolonial museum industry: what happens when a system of value is elaborated outside its exhibitionary setting? In the case of the Oudayas, she shows how cultural programming and management are clearly tied to an understanding of Moroccan art and culture based on Western intellectual constructions. De Micheli concludes that, in order to win domestic visitors, Moroccan museums ultimately need to create a space that appeals to and is conducive to Moroccan culture. In the meantime, local residents of the Kasbah will continue to prefer wandering around the Andalusian gardens that surround the Oudayas museum, as a favoured space in which to stimulate their imagination. In Chapter 5, Lucía Cirianni Salazar explores the role played by muse­ ums as spaces of cultural encounters in Turkey using the example of two Sufi lodges (tekkes), the Mevlana Museum in Konya and the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum in Cappadocia. Shortly after the Republic of Turkey was founded, the government ordered the closure of all Sufi lodges in the country. Some became government offices, others were used as schools, and many were simply abandoned. In some cases, lodges were turned into museums in which Sufism was exhibited as a body of traditions lost in a pre-modern past. This vision of Sufism in museums remained unchallenged until the 2000. Cirianni Salazar shows how, with the easing of the secularisation paradigm, this construction is being constantly tested as Sufi visitors to the museum lodges make use of the exhibitionary space to perform religious rituals (drink­ ing from the fountain, praying at the türbes). She closes by demonstrating that the differentiation generally made between official state discourse and popular practice is not helpful in understanding religiosity and secularism in Turkey, providing ample examples of a constant dialogic between the two in the museum. The chapters in Part II of this volume, entitled ‘Minorities Exhibiting’, document institutions led by minorities, in which they are the curators and the administrators of their own culture. Part II explores the ways in which museums can serve, and have served, as valuable strategies for encouraging the promotion of a larger understanding of cultural identity, with the pos­ sibility of opening new debates within society, as well as outlining the limita­

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  21 tions and the contradictions that such institutions impose. This section of the book begins with Sarina Wakefield’s chapter about the relationship between museum spatiality and migrant status in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Despite accounting for more than 80 per cent of the resident population and having a long and visible presence in society, migrant labourers continue to remain mostly excluded from official museum narratives and they rarely visit collections. Rather, as Wakefield shows, they prefer to use the space outside of museums, which becomes the stage of alternative heritage practices and discourses for a population that remains marginalised. At the interface between space and heritage studies, Wakefield’s chapter draws attention to the fact that the museum is a site that can generate culture as much as it exhibits it. It also points at the exhibitionary power of the museum, such as described in the work of Tony Bennet (1995). As they socialise outside museums, migrant labourers become exhibits for incoming and outgoing visitors, uneasy reminders of the social and economic discrepancies existing in the UAE. Rita Kalindjian and Rhéa Dagher’s essay focuses on minority repre­ sentations and genocide narratives in Lebanon through an analysis of the Armenian Genocide Orphans Aram Bezikian Museum in Byblos. During the First World War, the Ottoman Army exterminated more than a mil­ lion Armenians. Around 200,000 Armenian orphans were evacuated from Turkey to the Middle East, and more than 4,000 reached Lebanon with the help of rescue operations carried out by American Near East Relief and the Women’s Missionary Workers. In 1920, Near East Relief established an orphanage in Byblos, which became known as the Birds’ Nest orphanage (which is still in operation today). On the centennial (2015) remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Catholicossat of the Great House of Cilicia decided to create an Armenian museum next to the orphanage. If not the first museum to showcase Armenian material culture in Lebanon, the Aram Bezikian Museum is the only institution in the country that sheds light on the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, the experience of its sur­ vivors – especially the orphans – and their legacy as Armenian Lebanese. Through an analysis of the museum’s narrative, its scenography and its audi­ ence, Kalindjian and Dhager reflect on the impact such a museum has had on the Lebanese-Armenian community, as well as its broader role as a space

22 | vi rg i ni e r e y that claims to voice war crimes within a society that is deeply fractured by ­sectarianism and war humiliations. Is the Armenian museum success­ ful in creating dialogue and awareness about the Armenian community in Lebanon? Their essay suggests that the museum is doing far more than that. In showcasing Lebanon as a place of refuge for the Armenian diaspora, the museum is building pride and resilience for Lebanon, creating a discursive space away from the paradigm of minoritisation. The authors conclude that the museum might well be a first step to a patrimonial engagement with more recent episodes in the country’s traumatic past, participating in what the Lebanese artist Walid Sadek (2016) calls ‘collecting the uncanny’, that is, providing a physical presence to the victims of the civil war. In Chapter 8, Zoe Holman sets out to document the founding charter and evolution of the Palestinian Museum, against the backdrop of Palestinian – and thereby, of necessity, Israeli – historiography. In doing so, she details the various challenges the project has encountered in its development, includ­ ing the political, bureaucratic, ideological, geographic and artistic. Through reference to notions of cultural memory, narrative and curatorial ethos and practice, Holman questions the ability (and aspiration) of the museum to present a unified Palestinian history and identity, given the fractured and dispersed nature of its heritage. She also thereby examines the function of the institution as a predominantly online archive in light of the unique physical restrictions it faces in access to the site. Towards a wider reflection on the value of museums in the context of jeopardised minority narratives, the chap­ ter appraises the efforts of the Palestinian Museum to counter the decimating effects of forced exile, war and what its founders deem ‘cultural genocide’. Holman concludes that it is too early to say whether the museum has been successful in offering a counter-narrative to Israeli claims to Palestinian land and culture. Reflecting on the curatorial process, however, reveals that the biggest challenge facing the museum team was perhaps to construct a definitive narrative over what constitutes Palestinian culture, in the context of ongoing violence, diasporic migrations and patrimonial erasure. In Chapter 9, Dina Ishak Bakhoum offers a new reading of the Coptic Museum in Cairo. Founded as ‘The Coptic Patriarchal Museum’ sometime between 1908 and 1910, the Coptic Museum follows a series of important museums (the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the Graeco-Roman Museum in

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  23 Alexandria and the Museum of Arab Art in Cairo, renamed Museum of Islamic Art). The building of the Coptic Museum, the land on which it was constructed and its ‘consecrated’ objects were under the control of the church. In 1931, the museum was nationalised by an official decree after what seems to have been a long negotiation process between its director, Simaika Pasha, the Patriarch, the King and other stakeholders. This process took place during a period of growing nationalism in Egypt, especially during the 1920s. Bakhoum sheds light on the tensions accompanying the nationalisation of Coptic heritage. Ultimately, she argues, while taking part in a process of patrimonial awakening for the Coptic community, the museum was meant to prove that its culture was inherent to Egypt. If Zoe Holman’s chapter examines the troubled heritage of ‘a land ­without a people’, Aomar Boum turns this proposition on its head as he investigates an example of ‘heritage without people’. Among Arab countries of the MENA region, Morocco provides a rare example of a nation that displays and protects its Jewish heritage. In the face of mass emigration by Jewish citizens to Israel and Europe, private investors and the Moroccan government have engaged in multiple initiatives to preserve the cultural her­ itage of this population since the 1990s, engaging in what Boum terms the branding of a Moroccan ‘convivencia’ (coexistence), the medieval concept of tolerance and inter-faith dialogue that existed in Muslim Spain. Until recently, ‘convivencia’ had mainly revolved around the programming of fes­ tivals and the creation of cultural museums. Exploring the transformation of the Simon Attia Synagogue into a museum of memory (bayt al-dhakira) (house of memory) and research centre for the study of Judaism and Islam in Essaouira, Boum shows an attempt to institutionalise new segments of Jewish history and bring them to the broader Moroccan public. The chapters in the third and final grouping, ‘Imagined Museums’, pay tribute to the seminal work of Katarzyna Pieprzak (2010) by explor­ ing unofficial museum projects or projects that are yet to materialise. In this context, the ‘imagined museum’ is a space that holds the promise of alternative patrimonial imaginaries, whether they be national, local or inter­ national. In his chapter, Habib Kazdaghli charts the genesis of the Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage in Tunis. Jewish culture has been exhibited in Tunisian museums since the beginning of the French Protectorate in

24 | vi rg i ni e r e y 1881. Until recently, however, the idea of a museum entirely dedicated to Jewish-Tunisian history and culture was simply inconceivable in Tunisia, as Judaism was solidly tied to Israeli politics. Kazdaghli explains how the Jewish-Tunisian community, domestically and overseas, has seized the socalled ‘Jasmine Revolution’ and the democratic ideals it purports to push for the establishment of a joint-venture Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage in Tunis. In a context of new democratic achievements, the museum project is publicised as an instrument of social change, a partner to the democratic transition. However, Kazdaghli’s article shows that such a project proves a difficult exercise as the organising committee navigates cultural taboos surrounding Judaism in Tunisian society, as well as conflicting patrimonial opinions within the community itself, in Tunisia and within the diaspora. Kazdaghli concludes that, as the project is moving to the conceptualisation phase, it is likely that divergence of opinions will increase, leading in the process to a necessary revaluation of what Tunisian Jewish culture is and publicisation of a community that is craving recognition. Diaspora and museological imaginary is the focus of Vera Eccarius-Kelly’s chapter. In 2016, the star-architect firm Studio Liebskin revealed the plan for a Kurdistan Museum, commissioned in secret a few years earlier by the Prime Minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Upon discovering about the museum, some members of the Kurdish community in North America felt profoundly upset and aggravated that the diaspora had not been consulted about the project. Drawing on rich fieldwork research undertaken with some activist-artists of the North American Kurdish dias­ pora, Eccarius-Kelly unveils the reason for their disdain, while allowing them to explore a Kurdistan museum imaginary of their own. She shows that the intricate relationship between nation-building and museums in the region, especially in the case of Iraq, which is undergoing major political and territo­ rial redefinition, makes the intervention and recognition of diasporic forces and nationalist activism problematic. As the Kurdish diaspora petitions for the rights of the Kurdish people in the Middle East, paradoxically we see that their voice is being silenced in the museum. In Chapter 13, Amanda Rogers deals with a slippery topic: ISIS and herit­ age normativity. ISIS iconoclasm and destruction of heritage sites, including the looting and the hijacking of museums that they have famously called ‘dens

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  25 of infidels’, have been well-documented in the heritage literature. Little has been said, however, about ISIS’s production and programming of its own ‘public culture’. As Rogers explains, ISIS is a prolific generator and a redoubt­ able self-promoter, with thousands of images circulating on the internet. This self-generating databank constitutes what Rogers calls ‘the ISIS archive’, a virtual exhibitionary space that the organisation uses to diffuse its propaganda but also to define and assert its values and beliefs. In a context where political Islam and religious fundamentalism remain tightly controlled by governments across the region, and beyond it, and where (prospective) ISIS members are scattered around the globe, the internet provides a useful and unrestricted space of connection. As she unpacks this idea, Rogers invites us to reconsider our understanding of what heritage and museums are, especially in relation to the culture of ‘unwanted communities’, in this case communities that attract international criticism and embarrassment and cause major local traumas. In her afterword, Katarzyna Pieprzak sketches a useful museographic paradigm for the MENA region – the museology of disaster – and proposes a new direction for it: the museology of affect. If museums, like art, culture and archives, exist in tension with disaster, nowhere else, perhaps, have they been solicited more than in the Middle East and North Africa, a region that has faced many different expressions of disaster, including colonialism, the Nakba, civil wars, uprisings, etc. Pieprzak explains that in a museology of disaster, museums are not disasters but rather are called upon to mediate adversities and limit the possibility of new ones emerging. She argues that this context of grief and severity has had major impacts within the museum sector, leading to a minimal engagement with and exploration of new cultural para­ digms. And yet, drawing from a workshop she convened in Morocco about museums, she reveals that participants wish for museums in their country to be spaces of connection and activation of knowledge. In conclusion, Pieprzak invites us to think about a ‘reparative future’ for museology in the region, calling for a ‘museology of affect’, through which emotions are mobilised towards the construction of more honest and accepting imaginaries. Note 1. In Iraq and Turkey, and in Palestine, the institutionalisation of vernacular culture emerged earlier, in the 1920s and 1930s. On Palestine, see De Cesari (2008).

26 | vi rg i ni e r e y Bibliography Abu-Lughod, Lila (1998), Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, Princeton: Princeton University Press. Al-Ali, Nadje, and Latif Tas (2018), ‘Reconsidering Nationalism and Feminism: The Kurdish Political Movement in Turkey’, Nations and Nationalism, 24, 2: 453–73. Ames, Michael (1992), Cannibals Tours in Glass Boxes: The Anthropology of Museums, Vancouver and Toronto: University of British Columbia Press. Asgharzadeh, Alireza (2007), Iran and the Challenge of Diversity: Islamic Fundamentalism, Aryanist Racism and Democratic Struggles, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Baram, Amatzia (1991), Culture, History, and Ideology in the Formation of Ba’thist Iraq, 1968–1989, London: Palgrave Macmillan. Bashkin, Orit (2009), The Other Iraq: Pluralism and Culture in Hashemite Iraq, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Benjamen, Alda (2018), ‘Introduction’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 50: 756–9. Benjamen, Roger (2003), Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism and French North Africa, 1880–1930, Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Bennett, Tony (1995), The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Bernasek, Lisa (2010), ‘“First Arts” of the Maghrib: Exhibiting Berber Culture at the Musée du Quai Branly’, in Katherine Hoffman and Susan Gilson Miller (eds), Berbers and Others: Beyond the Tribe and Nation in the Maghrib, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, pp. 171–94. Bhatti, Shaila (2016), Translating Museums: A Counterhistory of South Asian Museology, London and New York: Routledge. Bou Ali, Nadia (2016), ‘Collecting the Nation: Lexicography and National Pedagogy in al-nahda al-‘arabiyya’, in Sonja Mejcher-Atassi and John Pedro Schwartz (eds), Archives, Museums and Collecting Practices in the Arab World, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Boum, Aomar (2013), Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. Bourdieu, Pierre (2013), Distinction: Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Braee, Christel (2001), ‘The Early Museums and the Formation of their Public’, in

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28 | vi rg i ni e r e y Al-Hammadi, Mariam (2018), ‘Presentation of Qatari Identity at National Museum Qatar: Between Imagination and Reality’, Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies, 16: 1–10. Healy, Chris, and Andrea Witcomb (2003), South Pacific Museums: Experiments in Culture, Clayton: Monash University Press. Herzfeld, Michael, The Body Impolitic: Artisans and Artifice in the Global Hierarchy of Value, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Joseph, Suad, and Susan Slyomovics (2001), Women and Power in the Middle East, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Karp, Ivan, and Steven Lavine (1991), Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Karp, Ivan, Christine Mullen Kraemer and Steven Lavine (1992), Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Kastrinou, Maria (2016), Power, Sect and State in Syria: The Politics of Marriage and Identity amongst the Druze, London and New York: I. B. Tauris. Kreps, Christina (2003), Liberating Culture: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Museums, Curation and Heritage Preservation, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Kymlicka, Will, and Eva Pföstl (2014), Multiculturalism and Minority Rights in the Arab World, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Maclean, Matthew (2016), ‘Time, Space and Narrative in Emirati Museums’, in Pamela Erskine-Loftus, Mariam Al Mulla and Victoria Hightower (eds), Representing the Nation: Heritage, Museums, National Narratives, and Identity in the Arab Gulf States, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 191–204. Maffi, Irene (2004), Pratiques du patrimoine et politiques de la mémoire en Jordanie: entre histoire dynastique et récits communautaires, Lausanne: Éditions Payot. Makdisi, Ussama (2000), The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Malt, Carol (2005), Women’s Voices in Middle East Museums: Case Studies in Jordan, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Malt, Carol (2013), Moroccan Museums as Agents for Women’s Empowerment: A Study of Museums in Thirty-Two Cities, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press. Massad, Joseph (2001), Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan, New York: Columbia University Press. Mathur, Saloni (2007), India by Design: Colonial History and Display, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

e ngag i ng wi th ‘mi nori ty’ vo ice s   |  29 Mejcher-Atassi, Sonja, and Pedro Schwartz (2016), Archives, Museums and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Meskell, Lynn (2002), Archaeology under Fire: Nationalism, Politics and Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Meskell, Lynn (2015), ‘Transacting UNESCO World Heritage: Gifts and Exchanges on a Global Stage’, Social Anthropology, 23: 3–21. Oulebsir, Nabila (2004), Les Usages du Patrimoines: Monuments, Musées et Politique Coloniale en Algérie (1830–1930), Paris: Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme. Peutz, Natalie (2017), ‘Heritage in (the) Ruins’, Journal of Middle East Studies, 49: 721–8. Phillips, Christopher (2015), ‘Sectarianism and Conflict in Syria’, Third World Quarterly, 36: 357–76. Pieprzak, Katarzyna (2010), Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Postcolonial Morocco, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press. Porter, Gaby (1988), ‘Putting Your House in Order: Representation of Domestic Life’, in Robert Lumley (ed.), The Museum Time-Machine: Putting Cultures on Display, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 102–27. Prager, Laila (2012), ‘Auto-Orientalismus und imaginertes Pan-Beduinentum: Repräsentationen von Territorialität und Transnationalismus im Kontext des Bedouinen-Festivals von Tadmur’, in Laila Prager (ed.), Nomadism in des ‘Alten Welt’: Formen der Repräsentation in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, Berlin: LIT Verlag. Reid, Malcom (2003), Whose Pharaohs? Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War I, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Rey, Virginie (2018), ‘The Radicalization of Heritage in Tunisia’, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, 7: 67–84. Rey, Virginie (2019), Mediating Museums: Exhibiting Material Culture in Tunisia (1881–2016), Leiden: Brill. Robson, Laura (2011), Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine, Austin: University of Texas Press. Sadek, Walid (2014), ‘Collecting the Uncanny and the Labour of Missing’, in Sonja Mejcher-Atassi and John Pedro Schwartz (eds), Archives, Museums, and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Shami, Seteney (1993), ‘Feminine Identity and Ethnic Identity: The Circassians in

30 | vi rg i ni e r e y Jordan’, in M. Miechielsen and M. Brugmann (eds), Who’s Afraid of Femininity? Questions of Identity, Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 147–55. Shami, Seteney, and Nafissa Naguib (2013), ‘Occluding Difference: Ethnic Identity and the Shifting Zones of Theory on the Middle East and North Africa’, in Sherine Hafez and Susan Slyomovics (eds), Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa: Into the New Millennium, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Shaw, Wendy (2003), Possessors and Possessed: Museums, Archaeology and the Visualisation of History in the Late Ottoman Empire, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Simpson, Moira (1996), Making Representations: Museums in the Postcolonial Era, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Tomass, Mark (2016), The Religious Roots of the Syrian Conflict: The Remaking of the Fertile Crescent, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Vergo, Paul (1989), The New Museology, London: Reaktion. Vobruba, Georg (2000), ‘Actors in Processes of Inclusion and Exclusion: Towards a Dynamic Approach’, Social Policy and Administration, 34: 601–13. Watenpaugh, Heghnar (2016), ‘Culture Heritage and the Arab Spring: War over Culture, Culture of War, War Culture’, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, 5: 245–63. White, Benjamin (2011), The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East: The Politics of Community in French Mandate Syria, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Wirth, Louis (1946), ‘Morale and Minority Groups’, American Journal of Sociology, 47: 415–33. Witcomb, Andrea (2003), Re-imagining the Museum: Beyond the Mausoleum, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Yasmeen, Samina, and Nina Markovic (2016), Muslims Citizens in the West: Spaces and Agents of Inclusion and Exclusion, London and New York: Routledge.



n 1953, less than a decade after Syria had achieved its long-awaited independence, the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions was opened in the country’s capital, Damascus. The new museum was housed inside the Bayt Al-Azem, one of the city’s most celebrated Ottoman palaces located in the centre of the historical medina. Its creation owed much to the new Syrian government’s commitment to invest in public museums. Under the leadership of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, established in 1946 at the moment of independence, museums were understood as vital public insti­ tutions engaged in the resocialisation of the Syrian public, vectors for the diffu­ sion of national values (Abdul-Hak 1953; Sulaiman 1953; Al-Ush 1953). In the rapidly decolonising landscape of Syria’s museums, the Azem Palace held pride of place as the first institution in the country devoted to the display of vernacular material culture and folklore traditions. Departing from the model of monumental history on display at the National Museum of Damascus or the Museum of Aleppo (Watenpaugh 2001), the Bayt Al-Azem designated a more immediate interest in the recent national past and in putatively ‘minor forms’ of culture. It was representative of, and in turn helped shape, a type of heritage that was gaining hold in the region as turāth shaʿabī (popular heritage) or al-funnūn wa-l-taqalīd al-shaʿbiyya (popular arts and traditions). 33

34 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e The story of the museum’s creation itself entered into Syrian popular folklore thanks to the profile of its first curator, Shafiq Al-Imam. A homegrown archaeologist, he would be the driving force for the museum’s layout, content and interpretation over the first decades of its existence (1954–83).1 Tasked by the Ministry of Culture with acquisitioning for the new ethno­ graphic museum, in 1951 Al-Imam set out across the Syrian countryside, ‘gathering furnishings and every imaginable relic from out of [the] past to display in [the] museum’. As he travelled across Syria from village to village (McConnell 1982), Shafiq Imam recalled the sensitivity involved in collect­ ing material heritage for the museum: I called on villagers dressed in old clothing and introduced myself . . . In that way, no one regarded me as an outsider from the big city. The people welcomed me into their homes and whenever I spotted something very old or of remarkable craftsmanship, I expressed my admiration and bought it. Before leaving, I would give the people my address and ask them to visit me in Damascus. When they did so, I would show them the acquisitions I’d purchased from them on display and then ask for additional details on their history and manufacture.

His search returned more than 4,000 hand-crafted objects and familial heirlooms, from traditional clothing to examples of jewellery, woodwork and metalwork. As word of his mission spread, people also travelled spon­ taneously to him to exchange family treasures for modest payment. In the novel Shirwāl Barhum: Ayyām min safarbarlik, Damascene novelist Nadiya al-Ghazzi writes about a peasant woman who travels to Damascus to meet Shafiq al-Imam. She has carried with her a shirwāl, a pair of colourful pants that she had embroidered for her newly-wed husband upon his conscription into the Ottoman Army in the First World War. It was her hope that he would wear them upon his triumphant homecoming; instead she waited in vain for forty years for a husband who never returned. Finally, exhausted by age and sickness, she exchanged the shirwāl for a single gold coin, in order to purchase medicine (Al-Ghazzi 1993, as quoted in Fawaz: 81–3). The image of many scattered pieces of the vernacular material past from each corner of the national territory being collected in the capital is a potent metaphor for the reconstruction of an authentic collective self out

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  35 of the dislocations and divisions imposed by foreign imperial rule. Unlike contemporaneous folklore museums in continental Europe, in which tradi­ tions and material culture were displayed as remnants of a way of life that ought to be collected and saved from the onslaught of industrialisation, but not necessarily revived, in postcolonial museums vernacular culture took on a restorative dimension. Not only was the material culture on display to be rescued from the perils of modernisation, it was also to be marshalled as tangible evidence of an ‘uncorrupted’ folk culture pre-dating colonisation: a precious historical tissue from which to build a revived national culture. As Director of the Department of Museums and Antiquities in Syria, Selim Abdul-Hak wrote in 1957: ‘for several centuries, [Syria] remained under the rule of foreign domination which destroyed its original civilisation, retrained its actions and tried to erase its artistic personality’ (Abdul-Hak 1957: 123). According to Abdul-Hak (1957: 124), one of the most pressing tasks facing Syria was ‘to recreate its artistic personality, save the subsisting elements of its popular culture and piece together the most important trades of its artisanship’. In a period when the region remained under cultural threat from imperialist politics and Zionism, gathering, preserving and exhibiting material culture and traditions provided an avenue via which to reclaim cultural agency, while asserting control of what constituted an ‘authentic’ Syrian identity.2 In this chapter, we take the Azem Palace as a paradigmatic example of postcolonial ethnography in the region, demonstrating the ways in which the practices of research, collecting and exhibiting that it facilitated actively participated in a process of self-redefinition and resuscitation after the trauma of colonialism. As the first folklore museum in Syria and a pioneer of ethno­ graphic museography in the Levant, the Azem Palace helped consolidate a set of museographic practices that would be highly influential across the region. Our research draws upon archival material collected in France and published material from the new museum sector in Syria, as well as museum parapher­ nalia and field notes from visits conducted in 2003 and 2011. Recognising the role of the folklore museum as a container for mediating a series of cultural crises bound up with the postcolonial condition – modernisation, decolonisation, nationalisation and westernisation among them – we focus our attention on the question of how cultural pluralism was managed in the

36 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e museum. As Syria struggled to overcome the legacies of imperially spon­ sored sectarianism, we suggest that the museum helped to naturalise a nonsectarian, or post-sectarian, vision of the nation. We propose the concept of ‘toponymical identity’ as a successor to the inherited intellectual baggage of communitarian colonial ethnography. A Multivalent Site: The Azem Palace as a Cultural Institution The palace’s function as a cultural institution had a longer trajectory, drawing upon the site’s historical capital as one the most outstanding extant examples of Ottoman domestic architecture in the Arab world. The man for whom the residence was originally built in 1749, Al-Saʿad Al-ʿAzem, belonged to a long line of governors from the Al-ʿAzem family. The ʿAzems were the Ottoman gubernatorial family par excellence, whose power within the Empire reached an apex in the eighteenth century. The palace is a lasting testament to this partnership between imperial authorities in Istanbul and local notable families upon whom the empire’s governance depended (Voll 1975). The sprawling urban complex was divided into two sections, the ideal for elite Ottoman urban Muslim domesticity: the Haremlik, the largest part of the palace, was the private familial domain; the Selamlik was literally the ‘court of welcome or greeting’, the zone of reception in which the Governor would receive visitors, conduct business and entertain guests (Aga Khan 1983) (Fig. 2.1).

Figure 2.1  Azem Palace, Damascus: the Haremlik. Photograph by Virginie Rey, 2011

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  37 When the French occupied Damascus in 1920, the new administration sought out properties as sites in which to pursue programmes of researchbased cultural production. This endeavour in soft imperialism had three main motivations: first, to compete with patrimonial advances made by other European countries in the region (Tréguan 2002); second, to counterbalance the heavy military presence in the city; and third, to position France as both the liberator and the protector of the Syrian national past (Sebagh 2005: 76–7; Zobler 2011).3 Support for the project came from the foundational High Commissioner of the French Mandate, General Henri Gouraud, who was an enthusiastic patron of the arts (d’Andurain 2016). Before the Great War, Gouraud had cut his teeth in colonial administration under Maréchal Lyautey’s regime in Morocco, a poster-child for ‘enlightened imperialism’. Following the example of Morocco and other territories of the French Empire, the new High Commission in Beirut acquired historical proper­ ties in which to install cultural institutions that would both communicate Imperial France’s respect for local historical patrimony and position French experts as sympathetic interpreters and promoters of local history (Wright 1991). The Azem Palace accorded with this idea. Between 1922 and 1924, the French negotiated the purchase of the Selamlik but continued to rent the Haremlik from members of the ʿAzem family until the end of the Mandate (Avez 1998). In 1922, L’Institut Français d’Archéologie et d’Art Musulmans (IFAAM)4 began operations in the Haremlik of the Azem Palace. Under the IFAAM, the Azem Palace became an engine room in the production of ethnographic knowledge and art. It hosted a library and an exhibition room (salle d’exposition), regrouping antiquities found during digs in and around Damascus, as well as small objects dating from various peri­ ods and exhibited behind glass on shelves (Contenau 1924: 205–6). Other exhibitionary projects envisaged for the space included a museum of Muslim Arts (Denom 1922: 288) and a museum of ethnography (Avez 1993), but neither initiative saw the light of day. In fact, following the ­reorganisation of the centre into the Institut Français de Damas in 1930, attention to museo­ graphy drifted away in favour of the study of the Arabic language and research (Watenpaugh 2004: 195). This new turn coincided with the arrival of a new director at the Institut, sociologist Robert Montagne (1930–8). Montagne had started his career as a naval officer in Morocco, in 1919. A

38 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e self–taught sociologist and fluent Arabic speaker, he caught the attention of General Lyautey, who enlisted him to help pacify the Berber populations of the Atlas and the Rif. Montagne quickly developed a strong interest in North African contemporary societies, especially statecraft and nation-building, and went on to complete a PhD with the fathers of French ethnology, Marcel Mauss and Paul Rivet (Gellner 1976: 130–40). Under Montagne’s leader­ ship, the Institut’s agenda, hitherto focused on archaeology and linguistics, expanded to include geography and, most important in the context of our chapter, ethnography. By 1931, Montagne had placed the Institut Français de Damas at the Azem Palace under the tutelage of the Institut d’Ethnologie at the University of Paris. A firm relationship was also established with the Trocadero Museum, where objects and photographs were regularly sent, thus participating in a broader colonial scheme of knowledge production and exchange (Barringer and Flynn 2012). This circulation of a shared vocabu­ lary of exhibitionary practices and ethnographic methodologies across the Mediterranean – between France, North Africa and the Levant – reached its apogee in the inter-war years. Another important role assumed by the Azem Palace was the foundation of the École des Arts Décoratifs Arabes, in 1922. In 1926, the school was converted into the School of Modern Arab Arts and operated as such until 1930 when the IFAAM underwent restructuration. Both schools sought to train carefully selected artisans and artists in how to revive age-old artisanal techniques, while modernising them under French supervision (Metral 2001: 221). As Anneka Lenssen (2014: 22–3) explains, such tutelage of the Syrian arts clearly sought to bolster the commercialisation of artisanal goods, while establishing a monopoly on their production. Indeed, in promoting the revival of artisanship in Syria, the IFAAM matched a larger measure within the French colonies aiming at salvaging disappearing trades in the face of industrialisation, while bolstering the local and colonial economy.5 The crafts made by the students of the schools were not understood as cultural data but decorative arts. They were exhibited in so–called ‘museums’ near the schools and sold to European settlers, tourists or merchants. Most of the production were sent away to France and fed an emerging market for ‘Oriental crafts’. In Morocco, artisanship revival materialised through the work of Prosper Ricard and his Service des Arts Indigènes (Irbouh 2013; Pieprzak 2010), while

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  39 in Tunisia, the Office des Arts Tunisiens (1936) was in charge of identifying and renovating artisanship under the supervision of the French art historian Jacques Revault (Rey 2019). At the moment of Syria’s independence in 1946, the Haremlik was handed over to the Syrian government but remained closed until 1950. In 1951, the Syrian General Direction of Antiquities and Museums bought the Azem Palace outright with the vision of transforming it into a museum dedicated to the display of Syrian vernacular culture. The palace, still under reconstruction from damages sustained during the 1925 Syrian revolt, underwent further renovations in preparation for the museum. Under the careful supervision of Shafiq al-Imam, restoration works attempted to faithfully re-create the original splendour of the site. In a period of enthusiastic demolition of the city’s historic fabric in the service of modernisation, Imam astutely acquired stones and decorative materials from contemporaneous demolished buildings for adaptive re-use in the palace (Aga Khan 1983: 7). The careful reconstruc­ tion of the building as container for authentic national heritage thus mirrored the invention of the national past through the reconstruction of the contents within it as al-Imam continued his tours of Syria. The following year, exhibits were laid out and the museum officially opened its doors on 13 September 1954. Al-Imam and his team had last-minute doubts: ‘It was the first time that such a venture had been attempted in Syria and we feared that since most people had the same objects in their homes, they wouldn’t feel it worthwhile to come and see them displayed here’ (ARAMCO 1984). Their fears were misplaced. Seeing familiar objects elevated to the national stage appears to have been an affirming experience for Syrian audiences. From the moment of its opening, the Museum of popular arts and traditions attracted large crowds of locals and tourists. By 1961, there was an average of 4,000 daily visitors in low season and between 5,000 and 6,000 in high season (Aga Khan 1983). In its original configuration, the museum was divided into two main sections: the exhibition began in the Haremlik, which housed objects and re-created scenes relating to popular arts and traditions, while the Selamlik, where the exhibition ended, was dedicated to artisanship with the display of the country’s most important hand-crafted industries: embroidery, leather, glass and woodwork, looming and brass. The museography employed relied on what Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998) terms in context (glass cases

40 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e with explanatory signs) and in situ (re-created scenes with mannequins) tech­ niques of display.6 The museum’s first visitors’ guide, authored by Al-Imam in the early 1960s, provides a rich catalogue of the original exhibits and the terms in which they were framed.7 In the selection and conceptual framing of material objects, we can identify several dominant and recurring themes. Throughout the exhibit, the representation of social and communal life mediated through quotidian rituals and practices, making use of supposedly timeless objects, connected contemporary Syria to an immemorial past. For instance, Arabic and Levantine traditions of hospitality and socialising were represented in scenes of drinking coffee, smoking narghile and playing games (Fig. 2.2). Rituals of grooming and personal hygiene were expressed in the display of perfume jars, as well as an entire room decked out as a hammam, depict­ ing traditional bathing rituals in the public bathhouses of old Damascus. Room 11, the ‘Room of the bride’ (qāʿat al-ʿarūs), meanwhile, displayed the preparation of the bride before the wedding, including the henna ceremony (Fig. 2.3).

Figure 2.2  Azem Palace, Damascus: ‘Le Café Populaire’. Photograph by Virginie Rey, 2011

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  41

Figure 2.3  Azem Palace, Damascus: ‘Room of the Bride’. Photograph by Virginie Rey, 2011

Nonetheless, the apparently ‘timeless’ quality of the exhibits was inter­ rupted by historically specific points of reference. Throughout the original guide, objects are consistently dated to ‘the beginning of this century’ (Imam 1961: 19, 23, 29, 31); in other words, to the period immediately prior to Syria being subjugated to French imperial rule. As we have seen, this return to a pre-colonial past is a feature common to most folklore museums estab­ lished in the aftermath of colonial rule. By its absence, the French Mandate is implied to be an interruption between the present and an authentic, notso-distant past. This is heightened by numerous references to Emir Faisal, whose short-lived independent Arab Kingdom in Damascus (1918–20) had immediately pre-dated Syria’s occupation by France. The room dedicated to Damascene inlaid wooden furniture included a sofa made for King Faysal. Another room, with richly decorated weapons dating from the early twentieth century, included arms used during the Battle of Maysaloun, the legendary last stand of Faysal’s forces against the approaching French imperial forces in 1920, a mythical event in Syrian-Arab nationalism. Similarly, the Ottoman past of Syria is almost completely silenced, with only a few references to it in

42 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e the guide. This was in keeping with a trend towards the Arabisation and deOttomanisation of Syrian history during the Mandate period (Watenpaugh 2007). Ethnographic Predicaments The curatorial predicament facing al-Imam and his team, along with cura­ tors of postcolonial museums across the region, was underscored by several key existential questions. What period of the past, which objects and which traditions ought to be showcased as ‘authentic’ and ‘quintessential’ national culture? How best to weave a singular nation out of its diverse communities and regions? This task was especially challenging in the case of the newly independent Syria, a country that had undergone several difficult decades of territorial shifts and crushed national aspirations. In identifying and con­ structing a representative vernacular culture for Syria, Al-Imam’s team would have encountered several cultural dilemmas and opposing forces. First, each region had to be made demonstrably integral to ‘the country’ as a whole and its population turned into Syrian citizens. They had to sew together a country pulled apart by the French and organised into administratively independent ‘minority’ states. France’s imperial statecraft had viewed Levantine society through the prism of religiously defined minorities. From the totality of the territory entrusted to French Mandatory rule, a series of internal administrative divi­ sions was devised with the cynical intent of creating comprador-client com­ munities that would remain reliant on French patronage and support beyond the period of Mandate rule. In 1920, the boundaries of Le Grand Liban were enlarged from Le Petit Liban, which had enjoyed quasi-autonomy within the Ottoman Empire since 1861, in such a way as to engineer a slim majority for Maronite Christians, perceived as loyal and unwavering supporters of France. Two other religious ‘minorities’, without previous history of French clientelism, would have states designated to them shortly after Lebanon: the Druze, in the area to the south of Damascus; and the Alaouites, in the northwestern zone of Syria. Both groups would be redefined by the experience of French rule as ‘compact minorities’, a term which suggested a confluence of geography and religious particularism; that each group was concentrated in a definable (and hence, controllable) territorial zone. The idea that Syrian

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  43 society constituted a ‘mosaic’, or ‘patchwork’ of differing religious groups was a staple of inter-war Orientalist scholarship. Profoundly ahistorical and socio­ logically reductionist, this ‘mosaic model’ assumed Islam to be the organising principle of Middle Eastern social life, to the exclusion of class, occupation, ideology, or any other markers of social status or identification. Heterodox sects within Islam, or non-Muslim confessions, were imagined as insular, semi-autonomous communities, riven by primordial divisions and mutual hostility (Turner 1978: 39–52; cf. Raymond 1994). The mosaic model was bolstered by the novel, pseudo-scientific language of ‘minorities’ which emerged during the inter-war years. As Benjamin White (2011) has recently argued, the concept of the ‘minority’ entered the discourse of international relations in the aftermath of the First World War as a consequence of the drawing of new national borders out of the remnants of vanquished empires. As dominant ethnolinguistic groupings within former imperial territories asserted rights to autonomous statehood, borders of new nation-states were designed to engineer demographic ‘majorities’ for the groups in question. Communities not conforming to the national ideal, whether in religious, ethnic or linguistic terms, would consequently come to be designated as ‘minorities’. This usage spread in French Mandate Syria across the 1920s and 1930s. In an extended essay written in 1939, Jamil Mardam Bey, one of the leading nationalist politicians engaged in Syria’s struggle for independence, reflected on the various failings that had characterised France’s two-decade occupation of his country. The misapprehension of the ‘minorities question’ on the part of French administrators and scholars in Syria was a central theme of his essay: The Frenchman arriving in Beirut, whether he is a high commissioner, general, industrialist, tourist or novelist, approaches our country with his mind filled with an imposing set of prejudices, errors, false images, outdated perceptions and literary clichés, which he finds it very hard to rid himself of. So he yields to a strange way of distinguishing, separating, differentiat­ ing and creating non-existent gulfs between Syrians. He finds himself lost in a ‘religious mosaic’. This expression should be clarified. Modern Syria is ­inhabited by around three million people, approximately 85 per cent

44 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e of whom are Muslims; the ‘minorities’ are actually divided into ­several ­communities. Thus it is not Syria, but the minorities, which form a ‘mosaic’. This must be of great importance in any analysis of the subject. For the issue can be settled only within the national framework. (Mardam Bey, xxiv)

At the time Mardam Bey was writing, on the eve of the Second World War, these statelets – the Jabal Druze and the Alaouite State – had only recently been ‘re-attached’ to the central Syrian state in 1936. Not all resi­ dents of these regions, nor other peripheral populations of Syria, such as the (Kurdish and Christian) inhabitants of the Jazira in the north-east of the country, were content with being ruled from Damascus. This dissatisfac­ tion was expressed in a series of attacks against the authority of the Syrian state, and the union again dissolved in 1939. The separatist tendencies were, Mardam Bey insisted, the work of French manipulation. Against the atomisa­ tion of Syria along ethnic lines, he and other nationalists, concentrated in Damascus and Aleppo, remained committed to a unitary state, as can be seen in his reference to the ‘national framework’ as the solution to the minorities question. Syria endured an uneasy reunification of its regions in 1942. This vision of Syrian society as ‘primordially divided’ was part and parcel of a larger trend of ethnographising groups not previously demarcated as distinctive, which materialised in the form of countless postcards and photographs of ‘communal types’, often playing out typical ‘scenes’ (Firro 2006). Much of it was also produced and supported by popular writing, as exemplified in this except from the novelist Joseph Kessel’s travelogue En Syrie (1926): Les alaouites, les achémites, les maronites, les sunnites, les Grecs ortho­ doxes, les chiites, le comité syro-palestinien, les bandits, les rebelles, les druses du Djebel et ceux du Horan . . . il y a vingt-sept religions en Syrie. Chacune d’elle tient lieu de nationalité . . .

Equally important in forging the minority paradigm was the scholar­ ship produced by the French Institute at the Azem Palace, by researchers such as Jean Sauvaget, Jacques Weulersse and Robert Montagne. Montagne’s appointment was a gesture towards a friendlier approach to pacifying the Syrian population by producing knowledge about the citizenry that was of

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  45 interest to its native political elite. It can be considered as a clear break with the scope of the French institute’s operation under his predecessor, Eustache de Lorey (Avez 1993). While he continued to sponsor projects relating to architecture and archaeology, Montagne’s primary research interests lay with economic, political and social issues in the contemporary societies of the Middle East. However, in Syria, as in Morocco, this ethnographic scholarship was deeply implicated in France’s (mis)conceptions about the region in circu­ lation at the time. According to Montagne, Syria’s chances of forming a suc­ cessful state were undermined by two essential deterrent factors: the Bedouins and the ‘minorities’. He organised knowledge production on both topics, sending colleagues out into the field to observe and report on nomadic tribes, as well as on the Druze, Alaouite, Kurd, Circassian and Yezidi communities living in Syria (Metral 2001). Scholarly titles produced under the auspices of the institute such as Les Kurdes de Syrie (Rondot 1939), Les Druzes: Histoire du Liban et de la Montagne Haoranaise (Nircisse Bouron 1930) or Le Pays des Alaouites (Jacques Weulersse 1940) relied on a sectarianism characterisation of Syrian society, one which Watenpaugh (2007: 39) notes emphasised ‘the rural, the extra-urban, and the nonmodern’. The Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions created a decade later reflects the challenges of asserting a new national wholeness out of a soci­ ety previously divided into religious and ethnic states. In the museum, the colonial ethnographisation of certain minority groups (Druzes, Alawis and Bedouins) and not others (such as Christians or Jews) was maintained. This could be seen, for instance, in the creation of a ‘Room of the Jabal al-Arab’, a ‘Room of the Hawran’ and a Bedouin tent. The ‘Room of the Jabal al-Arab’, meanwhile, featured mannequins of ‘wealthy Druze men’ and ‘Alawites from the mountains’ (Imam 1961: 43) welcoming visitors. Beside a young girl standing in the corner was exhibited traditional attire from the region, alongside more contemporary forms of dress. The room was decorated with typical local artefacts, like the woollen rugs hanging from the walls. Opposite, on a small stage, was situated the room of the Hawran, depicting a vil­ lage family dressed in traditional regional clothing and engaged in various tasks of domestic labour, such as embroidery. Outside on the patio, a dark ‘Bedouin’ tent was set up in summer, as an example of the ‘ancestral dwelling of nomadic people’ (Imam 1961: 37). The tent was divided into male and

46 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e female sections: in the male side of the tent were placed seated mannequins representing a host and a guest, drinking coffee. In the part reserved for the women could be seen kitchen utensils and looms for carpet weaving. Such highly ethnographised representations could be seen as the uncon­ scious remnants of colonial taxonomies. On the whole, however, we observe that the museum showed the beginnings of a departure from the mosaic model. Vernacular culture was instead displayed through a lens that was more toponymical than it was religious or ethnolinguistic. By ‘toponymical’, we mean an identity that is tied to a place, a topos, and is verifiable through its conformity to an established set of qualities, norms or distinctive characteris­ tics obtaining to that place. An example can be seen in the labelling of wine or cheese, or other reputedly regionally distinctive produce via the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in France, or the Denominazione di Origine Controllata in Italy, the official marker of the state conferring authenticity on the product. In the museum guide, it takes expression in categorisation of its objects and human mannequins: ‘cushions embroidered with golden thread from Aleppo (Imam 1961: 23); ‘inlaid wooden furniture from Damascus’ (Imam 1961: 25); ‘towels from Homs and Hama’ (Imam 1961: 33); ‘pottery specimens from Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and the Djezirah’ (Imam 1961: 51). In the museum itself, the ‘Hall of Folk Costumes’ (alāzīāʾ) offered perhaps the most patent example of the toponymical model. Upon entrance, the visitor’s eye would be immediately caught by the giant map of Syria mounted on the upper section of the wall, outlining the fourteen governorates of the country (muªafaÕāt) (Fig. 2.4). All around the room, large showcases displayed mannequins wearing folk costumes intended to be representative of the vari­ ous regions of the Syrian countryside, including vil­ lages such as Sukne in the Ghouta and al Mouhdamie Figure 2.4  Azem Palace, Damascus: Map of Syria outlining the fourteen governorates of the country in in the Qalamoun region. the ‘Hall of Folk Costumes’. Photograph by Virginie The concept of ‘topo­ Rey, 2011

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  47

Figure 2.5  Museum of Palmyra: the section of Bedouin tradition. Photograph by Marwan Muslimani, 2007

nymical’ identities gained even further expression with the establishment of regional museums of popular arts and traditions in the major towns across Syria, in Hama (1956), Tartous (1960), Palmyra (1961) and Aleppo (1967) (Bahnassi 1979). As in the Azem Palace, in these museums local traditions and artisanship were displayed as archetypical of a region, while being quin­ tessentially Syrian. For example, in Palmyra, the museum revolved around the steppe (al-badiyya) and the desert (al-‚aªra), with exhibits relating to peasant and nomadic lifestyles, as well as typical plant specimens and animals from the Euphrates region (Fig. 2.5). At Beit Achiqbash, in Aleppo, the display was divided between the most typical Aleppan artisanal industries – brass, musical instruments, costumes, soap, glass – and daily rituals and celebrations – coffee-making, going to the hammam, etc. (Fig. 2.6). This way of processing folklore, emphasising unity in diversity, became dominant in most ethnographic museums across the region, in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Iraq (Rey 2019). It was also actively used in central Europe, including in France, Syria’s former ruler, where regionalism was construed as a variation of a homogenised culture and a way of promot­ ing national integration (Peer 1998). In her seminal study of ethnographic

48 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e

Figure 2.6  Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions of Aleppo: scene representing the barbershop. Photograph by the authors, 2011

objects, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1998: 77) rightly points out that through transference of the idiosyncrasies of local cultures to the national level, the oppositional forces of regionalism could be diffused in what she calls ‘the banality of difference, whereby the proliferation of variation has the neutralising effect of rendering difference (and conflict) inconsequential’. In the context of Syria, we see how this strategy was in line with the country’s transition towards new hierarchies oriented towards politics in place of sec­ tarianism (Picard 1980). It also helped to territorialise a fragile new country and re-integrate potentially rebellious and separatist regions into the fold of the nation. And indeed, in this period, Syria’s sovereignty was threatened from every corner of the country. Aleppo, for example, had retained connec­ tions to Mosul and Baghdad and many politicians favoured Syria joining Iraq in a federation. Provincial towns, such as Homs and Deir al-Zor, nourished resentment towards Damascus as the stronghold of the country.

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  49 A Class-based Approach to Identity? Toponymical identity worked alongside a strong valorisation of manual labour, undertaken by the classes laborieuses, which were now invested as the upholders and representatives of an authentic national culture. In the 1960s museum guide, Al-Imam asserts that the new folklore museums ‘demonstrate in a concrete way the dynamism and artistic sense of the labouring classes of our country, those who love life and who work for the sake of beauty, truth and liberty’ (Al-Iman 1961: 5). This discourse was in line with the ascendant Arab socialist vision of the nation – Arab socialism, and its variants, which included Nasserism in Egypt, Destourian socialism in Tunisia, and Baʿthism in Iraq and in Syria – defined in contradiction to the colonialist obsession with minoritisation. According to this vision class, rather than ethnicity, religion or language, was elevated as the marker of authentic belonging. The museum depiction is far from Marxist socialism, with its idealisation of an industrial working class: the ideal is much closer to a pre-industrial commu­ nalism, along the lines of William Morris or John Ruskin. Yet, unlike in other folklore museums in Europe at the time, folklore at the Azem Palace was not presented as peasant or working-class culture. Rather, it was displayed as an ensemble of traditions and practices shared across all strata of society, that supposedly flourished before the intervention of colonisation and westernisa­ tion. Throughout the exhibition, all strata of society were presented as engag­ ing in ‘traditional’ activities, rituals and ceremonies. This classless approach to folklore was not, however, innocent of social difference. It was posited instead on a delineation of society based on developmentalist distinctions between the ‘urban’, the ‘rural’ and the ‘nomadic’, whose emphasis varied depending on the region on display. Emphasising manual labour also worked to bolster the Syrian govern­ ment’s policy of artisanship valorisation aiming at making this sector a strong suit in the economy, while furthering tourism opportunities (Abdulac 1997). Located on the way to the souk al-Hammidia, in the heart of the old city of Damascus, the museum indeed offered an ideal shop window for tourists who could preview and get acquainted with the star products of the country, before purchasing them at the market. As Lisa Bernasek (2010) shows in the case of Moroccan decorative art, their display in colonial museums, as well

50 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e as in fairs and museums in France, sought to encourage French visitors to develop ‘a taste’ for them, away from the crowded street of the city market. Conversely, the creation of a section devoted to artisanship in a brand-new national museum, an institution devoted to the most important features of Syrian culture, aimed at giving artisans a sense of importance. Certainly, Al-Imam’s message is clear: ‘In bolstering interest in artisanal production, [the museum] has contributed to the rise in pricing of artisanal crafts. This museum will also allow our popular milieu to become aware of the artistic value of their traditions and work, which will encourage them to be proud of this heritage, to look after it, and to give it the place it deserves’ (Al-Imam 1961: 12). Conclusions In her provocative article ‘History Without Documents’, Omnia El Shakry (2015) registers the difficulties for historians of the postcolonial Arab World posed by the inaccessibility of state archives under authoritarian regimes. In light of this documentary lacuna, she argues for a broadening of the ‘archives of decolonisation’ to encompass the work of critical intellectuals and literary sources. While El Shakry does not explicitly broach the realm of material culture in this expanded conception of ‘archives’, the exhibi­ tion of vernacular culture in the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions at the Azem Palace can be thought of as part of this ‘archive of decolonisation’. As we have shown in this chapter, the museum was one of the first insti­ tutions dedicated to vernacular culture to open its doors in an independent country of the MENA region. It was created in a period when new attention was given to the everyday lore of the common people. Unlike similar such museums in Europe, born uniquely out of the trauma of modernisation and mechanisation, in postcolonial Syria the museum had to assume the additional task of narrating the nation after several decades of occupation and frustrated national aspirations. The popularity of turāth shaʿabī which the Bayt al-Azem spearheaded reflected a nexus of cultural and political concerns. With many political leaders in the region engaging in intense programmes of economic modernisation and social reform, collecting and exhibiting folk­ lore was understood as a bulwark against the rampant industrialisation and

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  51 westernisation of society. But folklore had an additional role, one even more pressing. In the context of decolonisation, vernacular culture represented a form of heritage pre-dating colonial rule, and as such was considered as important material, closest to the heart of the nation, from which an ‘authen­ tic’ national culture could be substantiated. We saw that, in its original layout, the exhibition of vernacular culture at the Azem palace still bore certain traces of colonial constructions based on a minoritisation of society. However, more fundamentally, it reflected a shifting politics of conscientious anti-sectarianism by helping to naturalise a new delineation of the country, insisting on the regional character of the crafts and traditions on display in the various rooms of the palace. This deci­ sion reflected the country’s commitment to a decolonised vision of Syrian society, such as defended by many political parties at the time, including the Baʿth. Just like the National Museum of Damascus founded in Damascus in 1918 (Watenpaugh 2001), the National Museum of Popular Art and Traditions was a political statement against imperialism. Depicting Syria as a homogeneous whole shows that, despite irredentism, that is, resistance against the borders carved by Europe, the logic of the nation-state was already at play (Sivan 1995). As Kari Zobler’s (2010) work underlines, however, this narrative of wholeness, with objects coming from all over Syria, takes a different shape in the various regional museums across Syria, from Aleppo and Homs to Deir al-Zor. As the years went on, museography at the Azem Palace drifted further away from any form of ethnolinguistic and religious representation. In 2007, the museum underwent a remodelling. The Syrian Department of Antiquities in partnership with Brigham Young University co-shared a grant of $212,000 USD to improve the conservation of the collections and enrich the visitor’s experience. During this process, the Bedouin tent was removed from the patio and placed in the same room as exhibits pertaining to cultures from the Jabal Arab/Hawran. In the most recent iteration of the museum guide, the descriptors ‘Druze’ and ‘Alawite’ have disappeared altogether. Rather, minorities from the Hawran, the Jabal al Druze and nomadic tribes of the desert region have been completely reframed as the upholders of ‘Arab generosity and hospitality’ (Issa 2007: 63). This decision is part of a broader movement of systematic Arabisation of society since the coming to power of

52 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e the Baʿth regime. Scholars of more recent chapters in the history of heritage and nation-building in Syria have analysed this as an attempt on the part of the Baʿth and the Assad regime, whose ‘security belt’ is dominated by members of the Druze and Alawite communities, to shore up legitimacy while keeping the Sunni majority at bay (Valter 2012). What was intended as a liberation has become a forbidden territory. With the likely victory of forces loyal to Assad over the competing forces that have vied for control of the country since 2011, this vision of Syrian society is likely to endure for the foreseeable future. Notes 1. Al-Imam was followed by Hassan Kamal (1984–94), Zohren Nisr (1995–7), Hamad Kadour (1998–2005) and Maisa Abraham (2006–present). 2. In the 1950s, governments across the region began to invest in the publication of books and journals devoted to popular traditions, as well as the creation of archives and centres for folk culture studies. One of the first such centres in the Arab world opened in Kuwait in 1957 and was followed a year later by the Centre for Folklore at the Ministry of Culture in Cairo, the CFMC (Al-Najjar 1991: 173). In Jordan, nationally inspired folk songs constituted a trend launched on the radio in the 1950s, but the first governmental clubs were created later, in the 1970s (Massad 2001: 250). In Palestine, the ‘Folklore Movement’ emerged in the 1950s as an incentive emanating from both academics and the people, rural women especially. In the face of Israeli domination, it was a mass movement of cultural resistance, in which heritage preservation was constructed as a national duty and the whole population was mobilised to collect material in order to prove its existence (De Cesari 2018). 3. To support their patrimonial enterprise in Syria and Lebanon, the French imme­ diately created Le Service des Antiquités (1920). From its inception, Le Service took every opportunity to publicise France’s involvement with heritage in the region through the publication of a scientific journal, Syria, the opening of archaeologi­ cal museums in Suweida (1923), Aleppo (1928) and Damascus (1936), and the cataloguing of the built environment (Sebagh 2005: 76–8). 4. The Institut Français d’Archéologie et d’Art Musulman (IFAAM) became the Insitut de Damas in 1930, and the Institut Français d’Études Arabes (IFEAD) in 1947. In 2003, IFEAD was placed under the tutelage of the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO).

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  53 5. This scheme was also implemented in the British Empire. See e.g. Swallow, Deborah (1998), ‘Colonial Architecture, International Exhibition and Official Patronage: The Case of a Gateway from Gwalior in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in Tim Barringer and Tom Flynn (eds), Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture, and the Museum, London: Routledge. 6. This last technique was reminiscent of nineteenth-century folk museums in Europe and North America (Alexander 1995). It was quite different from the sober and aestheticising museography used to display folklore and material cul­ ture in Europe in the post-war period (Segalen 2001). 7. There is some ambiguity over the dating of the guide, since it does not include a publication date. Judging from available contextual evidence, we estimate its date of publication to be between 1961 and 1964. Hereafter, the guide will be referenced as dating from 1961.

Bibliography Abdul-Hak, Selim (1953), ‘Ha∂r al-matāªif al-sūriyya wa-mustaqbalha’, Annales Archéologiques de Syrie, 3: 3–10. Abdul-Hak, Selim (1957), ‘Exposition syrienne itinérante peinture, folklore et arti­ sanat’, Les Annales Archéologiques de Syrie, 7: 123–32. Abou-El-Haj, Rifaat Ali (1982), ‘The Social Uses of the Past: Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule’, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 14, 2: 185–201. Aga Khan (1983), Azem Palace, Damascus, Syria: The Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Bahnassi, Afif (1979), Catalogue des musées et des sites archaeologiques en Syrie/Dalil matāhif wa-l-mawāqiʿ al-athāriyya fi suriya, Damascus: Ministry of Culture, Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées. Contenau, Georges (1924), ‘L’institut français d’archéologie et d’art musulmans à Damas’, Syria, 5: 203–11. d’Andurain, Julie (2016), Henri Gouraud: Photographies d’Afrique et d’Orient: Trésors des archives du Quai d’Orsay, Paris: Éditions Pierre de Taillac. Ezzerelli, Kaïs (2005), ‘Le pèlerinage à La Mecque au temps du chemin de fer du Hedjaz (1908–1914)’, in Sylvia Chiffoleau and Anna Madoeuf (eds), Les pelerinages au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient: espaces publics, espaces du public, Damascus: Institut Français du Proche Orient, pp. 167–91. Firro, Kais M. (2006), ‘Ethnicizing the Shi‘is in Mandatory Lebanon’, Middle Eastern Studies 42: 741–59.

54 | vi rg i ni e rey and st e p h e n pa s co e Al-Imam, Shafiq (c. 1961), Musée des arts et traditions populaires (Palais Azem, Damas), Damascus: Ministry of Culture, Direction Générale des Antiquités et des Musées. Issa, Abed (2007), Guide to the Azem Palace Museum. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara (1998), Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Lenssen, Anneka (2014), The Shape of the Support: Painting and Politics in Syria’s Twentieth Century, doctoral dissertation, Boston: Massachusetts Insitute of Technology. McConnell, Phil (1982), ‘Restoration of Damascus’, Aramco World, 33: 2, (last acc­ essed 22 March 2019). Mardam Bey, Jamil (1994), ‘The Legacy of Equivocation’, as reproduced in Salma Mardam Bey, Syria’s Quest for Independence, Reading: Ithaca Press, ix–xxxii. Metral, Jean (2001), ‘Robert Montagne et les études ethnographiques françaises dans la Syrie sous Mandat’, in Nadine Méouchy and Peter Sluglett (eds), Les Mandats français et anglais dans une perspectives comparative, Leiden: Brill. Fawaz, Leila Tarazi (2014), A Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Gellner, Ernest (1976), ‘The Sociology of Robert Montagne (1893–1954)’, Daedalus, 105: 137–50. Irbouh, Hamid (2013), Art in the Service of Colonialism: French Art Education in Morocco 1912–1956, London: I. B. Tauris. Kastrinou, Maria (2016), Power, Sect and State in Syria: The Politics of Marriage and Identity amongst the Druze, London: I. B. Tauris. Massad, Joseph (2001), Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan, New York: Columbia University Press. Al-Najjar, Muhammad (1991), ‘Contemporary Trends in the Study of Folklore in the Arab Gulf States’, in Eric Davis and Nicolas Gavrielides (eds), Statecraft in the Middle East: Oil, Historical Memory and Popular Culture, Miami: Florida University Press, pp. 176–201. Poulleau, Alice (2012 [1926]), A Damas Sous Les Bombes: Journal d’une Française pendant la révolte syrienne (1924–1926), Paris: L’Harmattan. Picard, Elisabeth (1980), ‘La Syrie de 1946 à 1979’, in André Raymond (ed.), La Syrie d’aujourd’hui, Aix-en-Provence: IREMAM, pp. 143–84. Provence, Michael (2005), The Great Syrian Revolt and the Rise of Arab Nationalism, Austin: University of Texas Press.

t he azem pala ce of dama s cus   |  55 Raymond, André (1994), ‘Islamic City, Arab City: Orientalist Myths and Recent Views’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 21, 1: 3–18. Rogan, Eugene (1994), ‘Review of L’Institut Français de Damas au Palais Azem (1922–1946) à Travers les Archives by Renaud Avez’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 26, 4: 706–7. Segalen, Martine (2001), ‘Anthropology at Home and in the Museum: The Case of the Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires in Paris’, in Mary Bouquet (ed.), Academic Anthropology and the Museum: Back to the Future, New York and Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 76–91. Shakry, Omnia El (2015), ‘“History Without Documents”: The Vexed Archives of Decolonization in the Middle East’, American Historical Review, 120: 920–34. Sivan, Emmanuel (1995), Mythes Politique Arabes, Paris: Fayard. Suleiman, M. (1953), ‘The Exhibition of Fine Art of 1953’ [in Arabic], Les Annales Archéologiques Syriennes, 3: 165–7. Turner, Bryan (1978), Marx and the End of Orientalism. London: Allen & Unwin. Al-Ush, Abul-Farag (1953), ‘The Activities of the Syrian Museums: The Olive Exhibition in Tartus’, Les Annales Archéologiques Syrienneses, 3: 155–64. Valter, Stéphane (2013), La construction nationale syrienne: légitimation de la nature communautaire du pouvoir par le Discours historique, Paris : CNRS. Voll, John Obert (1975), ‘Old Ulama Families and Ottoman Influence in Eighteenth Century Damascus’, American Journal of Arabic Studies, 3: 52–5. Watenpaugh, Heghnar (2001), ‘Museums and the Construction of National History in Lebanon and Syria’, in Nadine Méouchy and Peter Sluglett (eds), Les Mandats français et anglais dans une perspectives comparative, Leiden: Brill, pp. 185–202. Watenpaugh, Heghnar (2007), ‘An Uneasy Historiography: The Legacy of Ottoman Architecture in the Former Arab Provinces’, Muqarnas, 24: 27–43. White, Benjamin Thomas (2011), The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East: The Politics of Community in French Mandate Syria, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Wilder, Gary (2005), The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism between the Two World Wars, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wright, Gwendolyn (1991), The Politics of Design in French Colonial Urbanism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Zobler, Kari (2011), ‘Syrian National Museums: Regional Politics and the Imagined Community’, in Heilaine Silverman (ed.), Contested Cultural Heritage: Religion, Nationalism, Erasure, and Exclusion in a Global World, New York and London: Springer, pp. 171–92.



early a decade after the Kingdom of Bahrain obtained the status of independence from British colonial rule (1971), and only a year after it joined the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), representatives of the Al Khalifa ruling family of the Kingdom of Bahrain began searching for a location in which to establish the Kingdom’s first national museum. From the late nineteenth century to the 1980s, several small buildings had housed cultural heritage objects that represented nearly 6,000 years of Bahrain’s his­ tory. The family solicited competitive bids from a number of international architectural firms before awarding the contract to the Danish firm Knud Holscher. The Bahrain National Museum (BNM) serves as a repository for national artefacts from ancient to contemporary times, reflecting nearly seven thousand years of human activity in the country. It houses facili­ ties for research, conservation, conference, workshop, storage and curato­ rial work, as well as a laboratory, a restaurant and a plantroom. When it opened, in 1988, the museum contained exhibition halls for archaeology, natural history, fine art, historical documents and ethnology (Tjahjono 1995). Today, it houses seven halls that reflect the ways in which curators classify the heritage of Bahrain: the Burial Mounds (or Graves) Hall, the Ancient Documents and Manuscripts Hall, the Dilmun Hall, the Tylos and 56

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  57 Islamic Hall, the Traditional Trades and Crafts Hall and the Customs and Traditions Hall. Near the entrance to the Customs and Traditions Hall of the BNM lies the Wedding Exhibit. Welcoming visitors is a display panel that identifies marriage as ‘the most important event in a Bahraini person’s life’. Mannequins and images located near the centre of the Wedding Exhibit space depict a bride, as well as the relatives, neighbours and musicians who accompany her during the most festive moments of the ceremony. Looking at these images and re-created scenes, I, an African American citizen, was immediately struck by the contrast between the women musicians, who appear visibly black, and the bride and the bridal party, featuring olive or light-coloured skin. The visual representations of this so-called ‘important moment in Bahraini life’ seem to hint at the nation’s heterogeneous ethnic and cultural influences. If we take a closer look at the rest of the exhibit, however, we are quick to realise that the BNM’s national narrative is centred around the cultural identity and ethnicity of the royal family – Arab, tribal and Muslim – with no mention of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious making of the population who reside in the Kingdom.1 There is an obvious disconnection between the museum’s labels, which fail to name Africa as a component of Bahraini identity, and the collections themselves, which suggest the extensive and ongoing economic and cultural contributions of African people in Bahrain. At the same time, blacks are the only identifiable minority, outside of the assumed Arab subjects, present in the exhibit, suggesting that the African diaspora in Bahrain occupies a position of privilege as a model minority. In the face of such inconsistency, how should we interpret the visual presence of black women at an Arab wedding? Does it represent an attempt of inclusion in the national vision? And what exactly does inclusion mean in this context? Does a reading of the discontinuities between the display texts and the accompanying images and objects require viewers to be aware of particular local or global discourses, or were the more obscure/diverse visual representations chosen intentionally? In a previous study (Willis 2015), I have assessed how, in museum dis­ plays, curators link bodies representing specific groups to particular tasks within the nation. In this chapter, I examine how paintings and re-created scenes from the ‘Wedding Exhibit’ are performative of citizenship in the

58 | john thabi t i wil l is Bahrain National Museum.2 I am interested in what Michel Foucault refers to as ‘one of the prime effects of power [in virtue of which] certain bodies, certain gestures, certain discourses, certain desires, come to be identified and constituted as individuals’ (Foucault 1980, 98). Following Foucault, Tony Bennett (1994) argues that nineteenth-century museums reflected an exhibitionary ruling complex whose purpose was to educate viewers about the social order. The architecture, lighting, scenography, floor planning and rules together construct a broader regime that conditions visitors’ behaviour, taste and understanding of the world. In the case of the BNM, I argue that ‘the Wedding Exhibit’ functions as both a parable of Bahraini society, offer­ ing insight into gender and racial hierarchies, and a strategy that naturalises and validates these hierarchies, in which the royal family occupies the top, and people of African descent, and any other ancestry for that matter, the periphery. ‘The Wedding Exhibit’ symbolises the civic contract between the Bahraini state, that is, the royal family, and the non-royal citizens of Bahrain, here represented by Africans. This communal bond is reinforced through the performative effect of the museum, as visitors wander through the exhib­ its in hushed contemplation. Black Assimilation via Islam, Manumission and Music Blackness has long been part of a discourse that comments on the experience of people of African descent since pre-Islamic times. The ‘crows of the Arabs’ was a name by which early Arabic poets, who were children of Arab fathers and African mothers, were known. As the historian Bernard Lewis (1985) observes, servitude and blackness were common themes in verses of poetry that came to define the identity of this group. The ‘crows’ held a higher status than non-Arabs, but a lower status than Arabs whose father and mother belonged to Arab tribes (Lewis 1985). The rise and spread of Islam as part of the development of empires and the trans-Saharan slave trade linking Arabia and North and West Africa fuelled associations of Africans with slavery during the medieval era (Hunwick 2002, 2006). In the nineteenth century, the demographic make-up of the slave population in Arab communities was in transition. People of African descent went from being one of many communities (alongside Arabs and eastern Europeans, among others) rep­ resented among slave populations to being virtually the only group (besides

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  59 Baluch in Persia, which became Iran) to be sold in significant numbers into slavery. During this period, a pervasive view in the Gulf that equates the Arabic term abd with blackness, people of African descent and slavery came to prevail (Hopper 2015; Mirzai 2017). Efforts on the part of Europeans to colonise lands that had experienced centuries of Arab domination produced two competing discourses: one saw Europe’s involvement in the abolition of the overseas slave trade as proof of Western superiority; the other portrayed slavery in Islamicised Arab societies as more humane than chattel slavery. The last discourse reflects a notion of race as a preoccupation of the West and Islam as a humanising and unifying force between people of Arab and African descent (Hunwick 2002). In essence, this view regards slavery in the region as relatively benign, involving primarily non-productive female domestic labour that offered relatively easy mechanisms for securing freedom and assimilation into Arab society (Hopper 2008: 2–3). This system presupposes a contrast with the brutal, agricultural, segregated and productive male labour associ­ ated with European plantation societies in the Americas (Hunwick 2002: xi). The conventional view in scholarship on slavery in Arab societies assumes that Islam determined how Muslims treated slaves, provided moral rights and legal protections associated with the treatment of slaves, and provided a path to freedom and assimilation into free, Muslim, Arab society. Thus, many Arab societies began to portray themselves as if people of African descent were assimilated. It is this perspective that arguably informs the ways in which museums in the Arab Middle East tend to avoid naming black people in exhibit labels, while images and the lived experiences reveal an ongoing association of blackness with servitude. It is in this context that a search among black people for status often fuels efforts to look to other factors such as Arab genealogy, language and culture. Sub-Saharan and eastern Africans were among many groups enslaved alongside – but occupying lower social positions than – eastern European slaves in Arabia and the Gulf, who were acquired via the Ottoman Empire until the rise of Russia and the abolition of the slave trade in the nineteenth century (Lewis 1990: 72–7). Africans became the majority of enslaved peoples in the Arabian region when European and North American demand for pearls fuelled the need for divers. Essential to two highly profitable enterprise trades, pearling and trade in African labour, African slaves were in high demand.

60 | john thabi t i wil l is The prospect of profits, coupled with the ineffectiveness of the British Royal Navy’s anti-slavery campaign in the late nineteenth century, spurred the continued flow of slave labour from East Africa to the Gulf (Hopper 2006: 40–1). Estimates from the British consular officer John Lorimer suggest that in 1905 Africans made up around 11 per cent of the populations of both Bahrain and Kuwait, and 22, 25 and 28 per cent of the populations of Qatar, Muscat (in Oman) and the Trucial States (UAE) respectively. Africans and their descendants also made up between one-third and one half of all pearling crews in the entire Gulf region (Hopper 2006). While it is difficult to project such figures forward on the basis of subjective early twentieth-century estimates, Lorimer’s estimates suggest a significant African and slave presence in the Gulf at the time (Zdanowksi 2003: 24). Archival evidence indicates that Bahrain became a place of refuge for runaway slaves fleeing abuse endured at the hands of their masters in neighbouring emirates. In 1905, Bahrain acquired a British Political Agent who was responsible both for manumitting slaves and for the island’s external affairs (Lorimer 1915: 943–4). At the BNM, the curators include the following document at the end of the Dilmun Temple’s exhibit hall. Entitled ‘Notice Slavery’ and dated 11 August 1937, it states that ‘By order of Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Ruler of Bahrain . . . The public are reminded that it is forbidden to own slaves in Bahrain. Any person who imports, exports, buys, sells or owns any person as a slave is liable to punishment by imprisonment and fine.’ Also, the exhibit hall displays other documents from the late 1930s, including a contract indicating an agreement to release a pearl diver following payment of debts, and others chronicling payment agreements for divers as payment for ser­ vice. These documents offer indirect evidence of a channel through which blacks entered and may have been assimilated into a socially stratified early twentieth-century Bahraini society. Whether they were able to assimilate is a matter deserving further consideration. The decline in pearl exports occasioned by Japanese production of cultured pearls in the 1920s brought hardships and constraint as well as new opportuni­ ties that inform representations of musicians in heritage sites. Runaway slaves among others petitioned British Political Agents for manumission certificates. Among those who petitioned, many obtained freedom. In addition, the dis­

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  61 covery of oil offered jobs with higher wages and fewer physical dangers than divers faced when pearling. It also raised the standards of living throughout the country and region and thereby generated opportunities for people with musical talent to earn livelihoods backed by royal patrons. Models for assess­ ing the degree and impact of assimilation of blacks into societies in Asia more generally and in the Gulf region in particular are the subject of Jayasuriya and Angenot’s (2008) edited volume Uncovering the History of Africans in Asia and Khalifa’s numerous articles on the experiences of Afro-Emirati people (Khalifa 2006; 2008). Assimilation via marriage into Arab families, the adoption of Arab names and the use of the Arabic language to some extent concealed genealogy and history in Arab societies (Jayasuriya 2008). At the same time, investigation of family histories has long played an important role in deter­ mining whether relatives deem a person appropriate for marriage to their kin, and such exploratory research practices deter shifting bloodlines across racial, class and tribal lines, thereby revealing the limits of assimilation. Music has also played a role in fostering a sense of community among African-descended peoples in the Emirates. I believe this same pattern applies to the Bahraini context. Sacred music offered a powerful medium via which those who experienced slavery could express longing for freedom. Sacred and secular musical performances have offered opportunities for Afro-Arabs to garner recognition as performers of Gulf folk music, particularly in contem­ porary state-sponsored settings (Khalifa 2006). In contrast to other depictions of black people at the BNM, which focus on labour, possibly in conditions of slavery (Figs 3.1 and 3.2), portrayals of black women are clustered into sections dedicated to the important rites of marriage for a young bride: ‘The Good-Luck Party’ (Figs 3.3 and 3.4), ‘The Morning Gift’ (Fig. 3.5) and ‘The Wedding Orchestra’. Representations of Black Female Musicians in Bahrain’s Heritage The form, manner and meaning of the inclusion of black musicians in the Wedding Exhibit at the BNM are informed by state-sponsored performances of Arab Gulf heritage. Some Bahraini nationals, as well as consumers of ‘traditional’ or folk music from the Gulf (Ulaby 2008: 17, 149–50), may recognise the images of performers in Figures 3.6 and 3.7 next to the sub­ heading ‘The Composition of the Group’, under the main heading, ‘The

62 | john thabi t i wil l is

Figure 3.1  ‘A Centre of Ancient Trade’, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by the author, 2016

Figure 3.2  Oil painting by Lewis Morland, 1988, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by the author, 2016

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  63

Figure 3.3  The Jelwa (‘The Good-luck Party’) and the preparation of the bride’s hair for the wedding, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by Nora Othman, 2018

Figure 3.4  The Jelwa (‘The Good-luck Party’), two days before a wedding, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by the author, 2016

64 | john thabi t i wil l is

Figure 3.5  ‘The Morning Gift’, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by Nora Othman, 2018

Figure 3.6  ‘The Composition of the Group’, Part 1 of ‘The Wedding Orchestra’, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by Nora Othman, 2018

Figure 3.7  The Composition of the Group,’ Part 2 of ‘The Wedding Orchestra’, Bahrain National Museum. Photograph by Nora Othman, 2018

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  65 Wedding Orchestra’. In the display that makes up Figure 3.6, the image on the right shows a performer, identified as a drum beater, carrying a drum pressed against her body and followed by a chorus of singers dressed in black. The image on the left features two drum beaters surrounding a figure that the subheading identifies as the lead singer, on whom the performance group bases its name. The majority of the images included in ‘The Wedding Exhibit’ appear in documentary footage that circulates via state media in the Arab Gulf states and on YouTube.3 The selection of these images within the national museum invites reflection on the significance of the use of bodies to represent and perform customs and traditions that function at the core of Bahraini society. Use of the language of theatre, the repetition of customs and, by casting certain bodies to play particular roles, the presentation of Afro-diasporic performances by the BNM may strike some viewers as prescriptive, signalling that this is one of the few roles African-descended people can play in Bahraini society. From the bottom up – from the perspective of black Bahrainis – it may appear an important form of self-expression and a pathway to assimila­ tion and upward mobility. Members of mainstream Bahraini society may even take the aforementioned contrastive perspective as unworthy of reflec­ tion and assume that this is the way things work. From either perspective, it is clear that state-sponsored curation constructs and perpetuates gendered and racialised expressions of national identity. The renowned Bahraini singer of traditional and national songs Sultana Um Johar Shahoudo (also known as Hiba Abdullah) is the lead singer fea­ tured in the exhibit. English-language sources are silent about her, and those English-language sources that examine Gulf folk and traditional musicians focus mostly on male performers (Killius 2014). In a broadcast television interview conducted in Arabic and available on YouTube, Um Johar refer­ ences a band she started under the name Band of Freedom. The band’s name resonates with social and political struggles against the forces of colonialism and the marginalisation of minorities in the nation-state in the second half of the twentieth century. The name also resonates with commercial interests that seek to capitalise on the popularity of the freedom struggle in black (or African and African diasporic) communities around the world by commodi­ fication through branding.

66 | john thabi t i wil l is Lisa Urkevich’s Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula (2015) highlights the historical role of tribal and religious factors that inform a tendency to associate the performance of music by women with the lowstatus work of enslaved Africans. Urkevich also notes that individuals from immigrant communities (which include people of African descent, whether descendants of enslaved or free people) have not been bound by the same familial and social restrictions as Arabs, in particular prominent families in the Gulf. Some performers achieved higher status, beginning in the 1960s as a wave of Arab nationalism spread during the era of independence. In Kuwait, according to Urkevich’s research, some performers were granted identification cards, which in effect signals a form of cultural citizenship, political assimilation or, at least, social acceptance. By using images of this figure who is renowned in Bahrain and through­ out the region, the curators and patrons of the BNM not only promote Um Johar’s performance of an essential element of Bahraini marriage rites; they also authorise cultural representations that draw on the resources of Afro-Arab communities. Um Johar’s prominence and capacity to gratify patrons with her aesthetically appealing performance compels curators to privilege the practices of certain musicians, conferring on them an official heritage status. They legitimate new standards of assimilation and traditions that are appropriate for Bahraini people. The inclusion of these images and the descriptions that accompany them say as much about the building of the nation of Bahrain as the omissions in textual descriptions of the contributions of peoples of African descent. The content of ‘The Wedding Exhibit’ resonates with discussions of Bahraini national and khaliji/khaleegi (or Gulf Arab) regional identities. Like other national museums within the region, the BNM draws its resources from private investments (individual investors, as well as national, regional and global corporate institutions) and government agencies. A large plaque located inside the main entrance of the museum includes a long list of sponsors. Below the list, visitors see a statement stressing the importance of cultural heritage for Bahraini national identity contributed by Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) and Chairperson of the Board of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage:

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  67 Culture, and an understanding of its many facets [,] are strengthened by an active partnership between the private sector and government institutions dedicated to culture and the arts. The first gives financial and moral support and the second implements new projects aimed at human development with preservation of national identity. Investing in culture allows us to channel a part of our financial resources to a process of forging cultural links and global community, promoting our cultural heritage. Part of the positive returns on investing in culture is a raised awareness of the significance of our heritage and the importance of its preservation. It is our cultural herit­ age that defines not only our past, but our present and future, it defines who we are.

The juxtaposition of Shaikha Mai Al-Khalifa’s statement with a long list of sponsors, coupled with her emphasis on the role of cultural heritage in defining the future, resonates with Harrison’s (2010) view that heritage not only helps to construct an imagined past in order to serve the present, but also helps to construct a present identity for the future. Conclusion A national museum reflecting the construction of cultural or ethnic national­ ism represents both consolidation and performativity: the nation’s members are depicted as participants in the national story as a supposed celebration and affirmation of the vision produced by patrons, curators and visitors, yet the museum functions primarily in the service of royals. This national story also instructs citizen-subjects to play particular roles within the nationstate. Viewed in this light, the relationship between nationalism, heritage and museums seems straightforward. Its complexity becomes more apparent, however, when visitors explore how museums purport to define the national identities they represent, and collect objects and construct displays to present such identities. When, as a result of the passage of time, they are obliged to adjust to the inevitable changes to the national story and the very real, material legacies – in terms of buildings, collections, displays – that earlier generations have bequeathed to them, these complexities must be confronted (Mason 2004: 18–19). Reacting to the ways in which globalisation, migration and nationalism

68 | john thabi t i wil l is converged to undermine a particular model of the nation-state (Harrison 2010: 17–18, 21), Bahrain and its neighbours have increasingly expended formidable quantities of resources to extract from their rich and dynamic legacies elements that accord with their national visions. They have developed national narratives characterised by both nostalgia for the most fundamen­ tal aspects of life in the pre-oil era and a celebration of the reigns of their royal families and their role in the development of the natural and human resources from which the countries derive their wealth and status. In Bahrain, royal patrons (members of the Al-Khalifa family) and their political and commercial allies have, directly or indirectly, funded museums that project a national vision of Bahraini culture as both multi-faceted and harmonious. The curators of the BNM have endeavoured to fulfil this vision by selecting facets of culture and presenting them as timeless or as illustrative of an imag­ ined pre- or early-Islamic society, a pre-oil economy (dominated by pearling) and the development of modern (twentieth- and twenty-first-century) natu­ ral and human resources. In all of its complexity and at its core, this vision paints Bahrain as comprising a culture that unites the Kingdom, and that both describes and prescribes its past, present and future. The production of culture through the national museum functions within the logic of a patron­ age system in which loyalty to the family and the kingdom demonstrated by parties, foreign and domestic, are congruent with prosperity and protection from any form of threat. ‘The Wedding Exhibit’ at the BNM exemplifies this patronage narra­ tive. Black women musicians are constituents of the wedding celebration. Their performance as musicians (and by extension citizen-subjects) serves to create and empower the status of the bridal party, who, I contend, represent the members of the royal family and, by extension, the monarchical state. Performance offers black women the opportunity to play a key role in what the museum identifies as some of the main traditions of Bahraini culture. The representation of black women only as singers and musicians in wed­ ding celebrations and not in any other exhibits displaying women in the BNM arguably suggests the limited options for blacks to participate in the social and political life of Bahrain, ultimately conditioning these women to continue performing these activities as socially acceptable practices for them in Bahraini society.

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  69 As the evidence included in this chapter reveals, an analysis of the rep­ resentations of black people in Bahrain’s heritage requires an exploration of a range of media, both tangible and intangible, such as museums, television and live performances. Many other subjects, such as clothing and music, beg further study by scholars, heritage practitioners and other discerning viewers, aimed at appreciating the breadth and depth of heritage forms that reside in Bahrain and the role played by minority groups in their dissemination. I hope that this chapter will generate more research on the topic. Notes 1. The state of Bahrain is composed of 46% native Arabs, 45.5% Asians, 4.7% non-native Arabs and 1.6 % Africans. The majority of Bahrain’s citizens are Shia Muslims, while the minority (which include the kingdom’s rulers) are Sunni Muslims (Fibiger 2011, 2014). 2. Research for this study occurred during visits to the BNM in July 2016 and April and October 2017. 3. Hiba Abdullah, ‫[ جلوه العروس في مملكة البحرين لقاء مع هبة عبدهللا‬Interview with Hiba Abdullah in the Kingdom of Bahrain], interview by Sheikha bint Shaheen bin Abdul Aziz Al-Madhahka, (last accessed 19 March 2018).

Bibliography Abdullah, Hiba (2018), ‫( جلوه العروس في مملكة البحرين لقاء مع هبة عبدهللا‬Interview with Hiba Abdullah in the Kingdom of Bahrain), interview by Sheikha bint Shaheen bin Abdul Aziz Al-Madhahka. Bennett, Tony (1988), ‘The Exhibitionary Complex’, New Formations, 4: 73–102. Duncan, Carol (1995), Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums, London: Routledge. Foucault, Michel (1980), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, New York: Pantheon. Harrison, Rodney (2010), ‘What Is Heritage?’, in R. Harrison (ed.), Understanding the Politics of Heritage, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 5–42. Hopper, Matthew S. (2006), The African Presence in Arabia: Slavery, the World Economy, and the African Diaspora in Eastern Arabia, 1840–1940, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Hopper, Matthew S. (2008), ‘“Slaves of One Master”: Globalization and the African

70 | john thabi t i wil l is Diaspora in Arabia in the Age of Empire’, in Proceedings of the 10th Annual Gilder Lehrman Center International Conference at Yale University, New Haven: Yale University Press. Hopper, Matthew S. (2015), Slaves of One Master: Globalization and Slavery in Arabia in the Age of Empire, New Haven: Yale University Press. Hunwick, John O. (2002), ‘The Same but Different: Africans in Slavery in the Mediterranean Muslim World’, in J. Hunwick and E. Troutt Powell (eds), The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam, Princeton: Markus Wiener, pp. ix–xxiv. Hunwick, John O. (2006), West Africa, Islam, and the Arab World: Studies in Honor of Basil Davidson, Princeton: Markus Wiener. Jayasuriya, Shihan S. (2008), ‘Identifying Africans in Asia’, in S. Jayasuriya (ed.), Uncovering the History of Africans in Asia, Leiden: Brill, pp. 8–36. Khalifa, Aisha B. (2006), ‘African Influences on the Culture and Music in Dubai’, UNESCO: The Slave Route, 58: 227–35. Khalifa, Aisha B. (2008), ‘Afro-Emirati: Historical Community and Identity in Transformation’, paper presented at ‘The Gulf in Modern Times: People, Ports, and History’, Sharjah: American University of Sharjah. Killius, Rolf (2014), ‘Modernity Meets Tradition: Reflections on Traditional Music in Qatar’, (last accessed 7 June 2018). Lewis, Bernard (1985), ‘The Crows of the Arabs’, Critical Inquiry, 12:1, 88–97. Lewis, Bernard (1990), Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lorimer, John (1915), Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf 1, 2. IOR/L/PS/20/C91/2. Mason, Rhiannon (2004), ‘Conflict and Complement: An Exploration of the Discourses Influencing a Socially Inclusive Museum in Contemporary Britain’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 10: 1, 49–73. Mirzai, Behnaz (2017), A History of Slavery and Emancipation in Iran, 1800–1929, Austin: University of Texas Press. Tjahjono, Gunawan (1995), Technical Review Summary, Manama: The National Museum of Bahrain, 1115 BAH. Ulaby, Laith (2008), ‘Performing the Past: Sea Music in the Arab Gulf States’, Los Angeles: University of California Press. Urkevich, Lisa (2015), Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, New York: Routledge. Willis, John T. (2016), ‘A Visible Silence: Africans in the History of Pearl Diving

t h e ba hrai n nati onal mus e um   |  71 in Dubai, UAE’, in S. Wakefield and K. Exell (eds), Museums in Arabia: Transnational Practices and Regional Processes, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 34–50. Zdanowski, Jerzy (2003), Slavery in the Gulf in the First Half of the 20th Century: A Study Based on Records from the British Archives, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe.


Museum in Morocco: From Historical Heritage to Modern Desolation


ccording to statistics published by the Ministry of Culture, Morocco features 14 state-sponsored museums and 66 private museums in 2015. Public museums are placed under the authority of the Fondation Nationale des Musées,2 an institution created in 2011 to promote museum heritage and cultural democratisation. Museums in Morocco emerged during the colonial period. They were supervised by the Service des Beaux-Arts, Antiquités et Monuments Historiques. Museums were of three types, archaeology, indigenous art (that is, old and new objects crafted by Moroccan artisans) and a mixture of both (ethnoarchaeology). They were located in historical buildings, within the main tourism poles of the country. As in Algeria (Oulebsir 2004) and Tunisia (Rey 2016), the opening of colonial museums in Morocco was motivated by political and military factors. First, museums made France’s ‘civilising mission’, La Mission Civilisatrice, in North Africa legitimate and necessary, as the display of Roman remnants in archaeological museums sought to posi­ tion France as a natural successor to past European civilisations. Similarly, museums of indigenous art placed France in a position of power and 72

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  73 sophistication, as opposed to an ancestral Morocco, displayed through the presentation of objects classified according to the ethnographic binaries that dominated the colonial conceptions of the region at the time: Berber/Arab, rural/urban, Islamic/non-Islamic, etc. (Nicholas 2014). These museums were also important economic ventures. In addition to ‘authentic’ old Islamic arts, they displayed newly-crafted prototypes created by Moroccan artisans trained in the French-supervised arts schools attached to the museums. Indigenous art museums were designed to attract Western buyers (tourists, merchants and settlers), and clearly delved into an Oriental imaginary (Irbouh 2004; Pieprzak 2010). As the Moroccan museum specialist Ali Amahan (1992: 8) pointed out, ‘The aim of the museums [of indigenous art] was to promote handicrafts and encourage foreign audiences to discover the traditional or archaic Morocco’. The first such museum in Morocco was the Oudayas Museum in Rabat (initially called the Prosper Ricard Museum and currently referred to as the Musée National des Bijoux), which opened in 1915. At the Oudayas Museum, objects were exhibited as art and ethnographic objects. Scenes of everyday life were re-created using mannequins, audio recordings, photographs and short labels printed in French and Arabic. Between 1952 and 1953, the museum proposed two exhibitions: ‘Reliures et maroquineries’ and ‘Instruments de musique marocaine’. In this last exhibition, a variety of Moroccan music was represented via Andalusian, Chleuh and Gnaoua orchestras. Mannequins were placed so as to illustrate the different postures adopted by musicians when holding their instruments. Instruments hung on the walls by nylon threads. In the background, visitors could hear Andalusian and Chleuh songs. Bilingual photographs and labels in French and Arabic provided an overview of each instrument and its use. In order to attract more visitors within the museum, activities such as musical soirees and folk dancing were also organ­ ised. The display of material culture at the Oudayas Museum also aimed at ‘encouraging visitors to develop a taste for Moroccan art . . . to cultivate a love for the past and to discover new starting points for the development of the arts within traditions’ (Anon. 1954: 65). After the end of the Protectorate, in 1956, colonial museums became nationalised and their name was changed. As a way of breaking away from the essentialising conceptions of the French, their content was rearranged

74 | f rancesca de mich e l i f­ollowing aesthetic norms. Despite a commitment, in the period follow­ ing independence, to the rehabilitation of Moroccan national culture, and, in more recent years, visible efforts towards cultural democratisation (Wagenhofer 2014), museums are struggling to attract visitors, especially nationals, who constitute a quarter of the total number of visitors (Pieprzak 2010).3 Private museums share a similar situation. For example, between 1997 and 2002, domestic guests at the Musée de Marrakesh accounted for only 11 per cent of all visitors.4 As scholars of Moroccan museums have pointed out, this shortage is connected with several factors, including a lack of interest in and appreciation of the national heritage, as it is displayed in museums, and the rampant west­ ernisation of Moroccan museography (De Micheli 2016; Pieprzak 2010). This is mostly due to that fact that museums in Morocco carry a fundamental contradiction: they are the repositories of collections originally selected by a foreign power, following foreign norms of aesthetics, with political and eco­ nomic purposes that are completely different from the rationale that animates postcolonial museums today. In this essay, I would like to suggest an additional factor: class division. Correlations between class and museum have been explored at length in several national contexts, across time. For example, in his study The Birth of the Museum, Tony Bennett (1995: 59–88) draws from Foucault’s work on governmentality to illustrate how the birth of the public museum in Europe participated in the ‘improvement’ of society and its self-regulation through the teaching of bourgeois tastes and etiquette. In theory, the museum could be used as a counter-hegemonic instrument to empower any communities, including subaltern ones. This argument has been put forward in support of community, folklore and eco-museums (Davis 1999). Bennett, however, remains cautious in his analysis and reminds us that taste is a class con­ struct. In that, he joins with the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1990), who argues that visits to museums are strongly connected to class and increase with education and socio-economic status. Bourdieu contends that interest in and appreciation of art is shaped by the habitus, a system of embodied dispositions (habits and skills) that organises our perception of and interactions with the social world. These dispositions are learned and shared by people with similar backgrounds (economic, social and cultural).

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  75 Drawing from Bourdieu’s work, this article offers an analysis of the inter­ twining of class and museum in Morocco. I argue that Moroccan museums are domestically constructed and experienced as elite institutions. Instead of being the instruments of the cultural democratisation they seek, and despite the form of heritage they display (modern art or vernacular material culture), they reproduce existing social hierarchies, ultimately making the museum an experience for an educated minority in search of ‘distinction’. Here, I do not consider how museums display prejudice, but how they institutionalise it. This chapter is based on interviews conducted between November and December 2003 with 40 randomly selected Moroccan visitors to the tempo­ rary exhibition ‘Triangle Al-Andalus’, at the Oudayas Museum in Rabat.5 Interviews took place in tandem with archival research and ethnographic investigations outside the museum’s walls, especially among the residents of the Kasbah. Social Positioning at the Museum of the Oudayas in Rabat Located in the Kasbah of the Oudayas, in the capital city of Rabat, the Oudayas Museum is housed in the former residence of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl (1672 and 1727). Collections consist of jewellery, metalwork and dresses from various regions of Morocco. In 2003, on the occasion of ‘Rabat: Capital of Arab Culture’, the museum became the theatre of a temporary exhibition called ‘Triangle Al-Andalus’, held between 13 October 2003 and 19 January 2004. The exhibition was designed to highlight the ‘shared memory’ existing between East and West.6 The collections on display came from Morocco and Andalusia (both organisers of the exhibition), and Portugal and Syria (both participants). The exhibition took place in four rooms located around the patio, where objects were displayed following modern museography (Figs 4.1 and 4.2). Interviews took place at the end of the visit.7 Domestic visitors willing to participate were asked twelve questions: three open questions focused on the museum and the heritage on display and ways to improve visitation, and nine multiple-choice questions focused on their personal interests. I deliberately chose not to focus my research on the audience’s interaction with the collec­ tion and other visitors, for two reasons: first, because of the blatant absence of research done on the composition of the domestic audience in Moroccan

76 | f rancesca de mich e l i

Figure 4.1  Oudayas Museum, Rabat: the patio. Photograph by the author, 2003

museums; and second, because of a desire to identify the interests of this audience. The questions were determined by the nature of the data required to understand what motivates domestic visits to the museum. My research indicates that the domestic audience was mostly composed of educated (BA degree or above) men aged between twenty and thirty.8 Drawing from the responses given to the questionnaire, we can say that, over­ all, the local audience: (1) had a knowledge of the art and history on display through school education or personal research; (2) goes to the museum to better understand national heritage, to learn and to see beautiful objects; (3)

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  77

Figure 4.2  Oudayas Museum, Rabat: example of scenography. Photograph by the author, 2003

visits the museum very often, irrespective of free entrance days; (4) visits the museum alone, with a friend or family, but rarely in a group; (5) is interested in sculpture, and in contemporary and older art, as well as artisanship; (6) perceives the museum audience as composed of a domestic elite or tourists. Three questions were especially important in understanding how muse­ ums are constructed in the visitors’ imagination: ‘For you, what are Moroccan museums?’, ‘How do you feel in front of the objects displayed in the museum?’ and ‘For you, who visits Moroccan museums?’. Combined replies to these questions suggest that, while the museum is considered by visitors as an important didactic site within society (Fig. 4.3), one that inspires awe and fascination (Fig. 4.4), it is experienced as an elite institution and is highly connected with what Bourdieu terms capital éducatif, educational capital. The intertwining of class and knowledge is evident in responses relating to the composition of the museum audience, which domestic visitors imagined as being made up of an economic and cultural elite, primarily composed of foreign tourists (Fig. 4.5). Most of my interviewees believed that visits to the museum were

78 | f rancesca de mich e l i 30 30

15 15

Not Not‘représentatif ‘représentatif ’’

Other Other

Admiration Admiration

Amazement Amazement

Figure 4.4  ‘What do you feel in front of these masterpieces?’

Other Other

Old Old Necessary Necessary Not Notnecessary necessary

Pride Pride

Lack Lackofofunderstanding understanding

Fascination Fascination

Intimidation Intimidation



Moroccan tourists


Local population

Foreign tourists

Figure 4.5  ‘For you, who visits Moroccan museums?’

AAfixed fixedheritage heritage AAplace placeofofartistic artisticfreedom freedom Forum Forum(place (placeofofdiscussion) discussion) mandatorystop stop AAmandatory Pleasure(‘loisir’) (‘loisir’) Pleasure Knowledge Knowledge Cultural‘métissage’ ‘métissage’ Cultural Meetingpoint point Meeting

Curiosity Curiosity


Private(elitist) (elitist) Private Public(democratic) (democratic) Public


0 0








2 2 8 8



13 13 14 14 15 15 15 15

33 22

0 0

20 20 23 23 23 23

9 9

0 0 9 9 6 6 10 10 66 99 55 55

0 0

17 17 12 12 18 18 13 13 8 8

24 24 23 23

Figure 4.3  ‘For you, what are Moroccan museums?’

30 30

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  79 c­ onnected with social status (both in its economic and its cultural dimen­ sions). Most importantly here, in defining museums as an elite experience, visitors, whether intentionally or otherwise, were making claims about their own social status within society. This suggests not only that museums are institutions that prompt visitors to exercise aesthetic judgements, but that they act as sites where social identities and hierarchies are imagined and reproduced (Bourdieu 1990). ‘Non-audience’: The Population of the Kasbah and the Oudayas Museum The fact that foreign tourists were understood as the main audience of the museums by Moroccan visitors suggests a gap between this institution and the local population. To better understand this gap, I conducted additional fieldwork with the population living in the vicinity of the museum, in the Kasbah of the Oudayas. The population of the Kasbah is mostly workingclass. People feel a strong relationship with the Kasbah, its gardens (Jardins Andalous) and cafés.9 I interviewed 30 people aged between 20 and 45. My questions focused on three key points: visits to the museum, free entrance on Fridays and knowledge of the collections on display. Results show that, while perfectly aware of its existence, residents of the Kasbah admitted to rarely visiting the museum. The most important reason they gave was pricing. (However, statistics show that free entrance on Fridays did not have an impact on visitation.) Another deterrent factor was that they considered the Oudayas Museum to be unchanging and monoto­ nous.10 Some residents also expressed a sense of exclusion from the museum. They explained that access to the gardens adjacent to the museum (Jardins Andalous), a very popular site among locals, was restricted during the tempo­ rary exhibition. The population was forced to stay near the street, and outside the Kasbah (Fig. 4.6). This interdiction generated among residents a feeling of usurpation: their ‘territory’, the land in which they had developed a habitus, had been allocated to paying customers, domestic or foreign. As is argued by Pierre Bourdieu, economic and educational powers are the prerogatives of the bourgeoisie. By denying locals access to the gardens, the Moroccan authori­ ties sustained the idea that museums in Morocco are institutions reserved for a specific social cluster. When I asked the local authorities why the gardens

80 | f rancesca de mich e l i

Figure 4.6  Locals wandering in the Jardins Andalous, outside the Oudayas Museum. Photograph by the author, 2003

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  81 were closed to the public, they explained that it was to preserve the collec­ tions from theft. But that was not all. Free access to domestic visitors on Fridays had been revoked during the time of the exhibition, deepening the gap between the museum and local residents who cannot afford to pay the entrance fee. There is little doubt that such an excessive measure had been taken in response to the allegedly exceptional nature of the event, organised in partnership with Morocco’s closest European neighbours. Conclusion Initially associated with the idea of an elite culture, designed to impart bour­ geois aesthetic and didactic values to the common people (Bennett 1995), museums have embraced, since the 1960s, the notion of being in the service of civil society. They have engaged in multiple revolutions, including the democratisation of knowledge. In the Middle East and North Africa, muse­ ums, public or private, are certainly experiencing growth, especially in the Gulf where the new generation of ‘franchise’ museums are competing on the international scene for cultural capital. Yet, as museums are growing, attracting more foreign visitors, domestic visitation remains in a state of ­decomposition, drawing attention to the need to kindle domestic interest in heritage. As this chapter has shown, despite an effort on the part of local authori­ ties to diversify the museum offer, domestic visitors are scarce in Moroccan museums. In addition to a lack of art education in schools, inadequate pricing and a persistent perception of museums as colonial and stagnant institutions, this research argues that another deterrent factor for domestic visitation is a persistent perception of the museum as an elite institution, access to which is reserved for the economic and cultural elite of the country. As Carol Duncan (1996: 6) has stressed in the context of Western art museums, [to] control a museum means precisely to control the representation of a community and dictates highest values and truths. It also means the power to define the relative standing of individuals within that community. Those who are the best prepared to perform its ritual – those who are most able to respond to its various cues – are also those whose identities (social, sexual, racial, etc.) the museum ritual most fully confirms . . . What we see and do

82 | f rancesca de mich e l i not see in art museums – and on what terms and by whose authority we do or do not see it – is closely linked to larger questions about who constitutes the community and who defines its identity.

In the case of the Oudayas Museum in Rabat, I have demonstrated that Moroccan visitors consider themselves, and are considered by residents living nearby the museum, to be an elite – a university-educated middle-class – that visits museums to fulfil an interest in history, archaeology and art. In this context, a visit to the museum is an act of social positioning. This process is buttressed by programming, marketing and pricing, the last being clearly designed for an educated audience that can afford to pay the entrance fee or is willing to make this expense a priority. This point was made clear by residents of the Kasbah, who were not allowed access to the museum gardens during the temporary exhibition. Drawing from these results, several suggestions can be made to encourage more local visitors to attend museums and design a positive and construc­ tive experience. The perception of Moroccan museums as elite institutions, whether embraced as a social affirmation or stigmatised, suggests a need to put in place two different promotion strategies. In the case of returning domestic visitors, museum guides should focus on a variety of topics and provide a personalised experience. At the same time, museums should create heritage connections that resonate with unfamiliarised crowds. In other words, for museums to become successful institutions for Moroccans, they need to be imagined in local terms, from a local perspective and for a local audience. In an attempt to give museums a new momentum, the Ministry of Culture has brought forward new incentives, such as temporary exhibitions, collaborations with foreign cultural institutions and the ratification of inter­ national heritage conventions. King Mohammed VI has multiplied actions and projects so as to give a new impetus to heritage and culture in Morocco. The opening of the Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Rabat in 2014 and the creation of the Fondation Nationale des Musées in 2011 are both excellent examples of this new policy. This last institution oversees museum upkeep and development, heritage conservation, professional train­ ing and visitation.11 Cultural democratisation features high on the Fondation’s agenda. To this end, efforts have been made to modernise museums, intro­

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  83 ducing new technologies.12 This policy extends to regional institutions, which have long suffered from a lack of interest relative to the metropolitan ones.13 Attempts have also been made to decolonise the museum, encouraging the local population to develop an interest in and foster new connections with their past. In 2014, for example, the Musées des Oudayas changed its name to the Musée National des Bijoux. Similarly, the Musée d’Archéologie de Rabat became the Musée Nationale d’Histoire et des Civilisations. Yet attracting domestic visitors remains a real challenge for Moroccan museums, perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing the museum sector. Domestic visiting will only increase after Moroccan museums make a true effort to provide an inclusive environment for all demographics. Notes  1. This chapter was initially published in French as ‘Le public, le musée et le non-public: une relation à étudier, le cas du musée des Oudayas de Rabat’, in C. Jelidi (ed.), Les musées au Maghreb et leurs publics: Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Paris: La Documentation Française, pp. 107–18.  2. (last accessed 25 November 2019). This Institution was founded by Law n. 01 09 and promul­ gated by dahir n. 1–10–21, 18 April 2011.   3. Accurate data on visits to Moroccan national museums is extremely difficult to find. Since 1997, the Ministry of Culture has stopped diversifying data for foreign and Moroccan visitors. According to the last available statistics, in 1996, Moroccan visitors at the Oudayas Museum accounted for 2,900 people, four times less than foreign visitors (11,400). In my experience, this contrast is still valid today.  4. Ten Dirham for a combined visit to the three sites managed by the Omar Benjelloun Foundation (the Musée de Marrakech, the Qoubba Almoravide and the Medersa Ben Youssef).   5. During this exhibition, the permanent collection was not displayed. I have disre­ garded the fact that this exhibition was a temporary exhibition, because whether the presentation of the museum objects is temporary or permanent is irrelevant so long as it is the visit that is at the heart of the museum–public relation.   6. (last accessed 7 December 2018).

84 | f rancesca de mich e l i   7. While the museum had many foreign visitors every day it was open, it took me two months to collect 40 domestic interviews. This was in line with the data sent by the Ministry of Culture and the difficulty of attracting a Moroccan audience in the local museums.   8. Twenty visitors were aged between 20 and 30, 11 between 30 and 40, 5 between 40 and 50 and 5 between 50 and 63. Twenty-nine visitors were men and 11 women. As regards the visitors’ level of education, 8 had a Bachelor’s degree, 18 were still in the process of completing their university degree, 5 had a Master’s degree, 5 held a PhD and 5 had completed tertiary education of some sort.   9. This local population shares the space with the tourists who visit the Kasbah every day. Consequently, several new shops, art galleries and studios have recently opened in the Kasbah. In 2012, Rabat was listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as ‘Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: A Shared Heritage’. 10. Not all participants knew the difference between the permanent collection and the temporary exhibition, generating confusion during interviews. 11. According to article 3 of Law n. 01–09 (dahir n.1–10–21, 18 April 2011), the Fondation of the Musées Nationaux is in charge of ‘developing museums, encouraging visits, informing visitors and ensuring proper care and access to all guests, especially children and people with special needs’, (last accessed 5 December 2018). 12. ‘The cultural heritage of our country is extremely rich. Mostly composed of art objects and archaeological remains, this heritage is a witness to the rich history of our ancestral country and constitutes an archaeological archive which confirms our deep attachment to civilisation . . . the valorisation of this national heritage is crucial to its preservation and its transmission to future generations. It requires the development of a modern and integrated heritage sector that ensures muse­ ums are welcoming and attractive public environments, [as well as sites] that contribute to the knowledge and discovery of the various aspects of national and international cultures (art, archaeology, history, savoir-faire, architecture).’ [‘Le patrimoine culturel de notre pays se caractérise par sa grande richesse. Composé essentiellement d’objets d’art et de trouvailles archéologiques, ce pat­ rimoine trace différentes périodes de l’histoire séculaire de notre pays ancestral et constitue, par là même, une sorte de documentation archéologique témoin de la richesse historique de notre pays ainsi que de notre attachement à notre profonde civilisation . . . Le renforcement de la richesse et de l’héritage culturel national est l’enjeu crucial de sa préservation, sa valorisation et sa transmission

e l iti sm i n moroccan muse ums   |  85 aux générations futures, nécessite la mise en œuvre d’une politique de gestion moderne et intégrée qui fait des musées des espaces publics accueillants et attrac­ tifs, qui contribuent à la connaissance et à la compréhension des divers aspects de la culture nationale et internationale (Art, archéologie, Histoire, savoir-faire, architecture)’] (last accessed 15 December 2018). 13. ‘This cultural policy is in line with the royal incentive to make every town and region of Morocco benefit from the valorisation of our heritage. These targeted actions aim at making museums across the Kingdom more welcoming and attractive, while respecting modern standards of heritage conservation and preservation.’ [Cette politique se veut conforme à la volonté royale de faire profiter toutes les villes et régions du Maroc de la valorisation de notre patrimoine. Ces actions ciblées visent à rendre les musées du Royaume plus accueillants, plus attrac­ tifs et respectant les normes de conservation et de préservation du patrimoine] (last accessed 23 May 2010).

Bibliography Amahan, A., and C. Camnazard-Amahan (eds) (1999), Arrêts sur les sites: Le patrimoine culturel marocain, Casablanca: Le Fennec. Ancel, P., and A. Pessin (2004), Les non-publics, les arts en réception, Paris: L’Harmattan. Anon. (1954), ‘Les musées du service des métiers et arts marocains’, MUSEUM, 6: 1. Benjelloun, M. (2002), Projet national et identité au Maroc: Essai d’anthropologie politique, Casablanca and Paris: Eddif/L’Harmattan. Bennett, T. (1995), The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, London and New York: Routledge. Bouazza, Aïda (2017), ‘La revolution culturelle à travers la renaissance des musées’, L’, 13 October, (last accessed 28 December 2018). Bourdieu, P. (1979), La distinction: critique sociale du jugement, Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit. Bourdieu P., and A. Dabel (1990), The Love of Art: European Art Museums and their Public, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

86 | f rancesca de mich e l i De Micheli, F. (2005), Diversité culturelle et muséale: une étude des musées au Maroc (XXIè siècle), PhD dissertation, Paris: École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. De Micheli, F. (2016), ‘Le public, le musée et le non-public: une relation à étudier, le cas du Musée des Oudayas de Rabat’, in C. Jelidi (ed.), Les musées au Maghreb et leurs publics: Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Paris: La Documentation Française, pp. 107–18. Duncan, C. (1995), Civilizing Rituals: Inside Public Art Museums, London: Routledge. Hooper-Greenhill, E. (2000), Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture, London and New York: Routledge. Irbouh, H. (2013), Art in the Service of Colonialism: French Art Education in Morocco 1912–1956, London: I. B. Tauris. Ministère de la Culture Marocain (2015), Revue des Statistiques Culturelles 2013–2015, Rabat, (last accessed 5 December 2018). Mouchtouris, A. (2003), Sociologie du public dans le champ culturel et artistique, Paris: L’Harmattan. Mouchtouris, A., and F. De Micheli (forthcoming), Le patrimoine de l’autre. La temporalité d’une injonction, Paris: Le Manuscrit. Nicholas, C. (2014), ‘Of Texts and Textiles . . . Colonial Ethnography and Contemporary Moroccan Material Heritage’, Journal of North African Studies, 19, 3: 390–412. Oulebsir, N. (2004), Les usages du patrimoine: monuments, musées et politique coloniale en Algérie (1830–1930), Paris: Maison des Sciences de l’Homme. Pieprzak, K. (2010), Imagined Museums: Rethinking the Museum in Morocco, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press. Rey, V. (2016), Spaces of Mediation: Ethnographic Museums in Tunisia (1881–2015), PhD dissertation, Melbourne: University of Melbourne. Rivet, D. (1988), Lyautey et l’institution du protectorat français au Maroc: 1912–1925, Paris: L’Harmattan. Wagenhofer, S., ‘Moroccan-Jewish Heritage Revisited’, in I. Maffi and R. Daher (eds), The Politics and Practices of Cultural Heritage in the Middle East: Positioning the Material Past in Contemporary Societies, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, pp. 252–69.




ocated in the heart of Anatolia, the Turkish city of Konya is famous internationally for being the birthplace of the Mevlevi Sufi order, com­ monly known in the West as the ‘Whirling Dervishes’. Each year, thousands of visitors from across the world travel to Konya to watch the sema ceremony, the only form of Sufi ritual (zikr) that tourists are authorised to attend and for which tickets are sold. Another important attraction in Konya is the Mevlana Museum.1 Founded in 1926, just three years after the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, the museum was the first Sufi lodge (tekke) – a space for the congregation and training of members – to be transformed into a museum in Turkey. Its opening corresponded with a period of heightened politics of modernisation and secularisation. According to Atatürk’s new republican tenets, Sufism was conceived as a ‘reactionary’ element in modern society (Azak 2010), and it was forbidden in 1925. Thereafter, Sufism became re-cast as a patrimonial element with historical and folkloric value (Wolper 2003). All Sufi lodges were closed. Their religious objects were confiscated and displayed in museums as embodiments of the nation’s past, arranged in such a way as to prevent any ritual and symbolic meanings (Kezer 2000; 87

88 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r Shaw 2003). Up until the 1950s, the exhibition of objects from the tekkes in museums was far more common than the transformation of the lodges them­ selves into museums (Yavuz 2003: 59–79). The reforms to Turkey’s initial form of secularism that took place in the late 1940s were never so radical as to restore the freedom of the Sufi orders or to legalise their existence, and tekkes remained closed. Periods of persecution continued to follow, until the coming-to-power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which created new relations between Sufism and the State. Since the early 2000s, a great number of old tekkes have been renovated or rebuilt and opened to the public as museums or cultural centres. Some are under direct government control, while others are managed by non-governmental organisations through vakıfs (foundations). However, the AKP has not legalised Sufi orders (tarikas) and, except for open acknowledgement of the 1925 closure of the tekkes, many aspects of the Kemalist discourse about Sufism have been retained. At the Mevlana Museum, the display consists of a main room surrounded by a garden and smaller rooms. Outside the museum, there is a mosque associated with the tekke. The main room, recognisable from the outside by its distinctive green tower-shaped dome, contains the shrine (türbe) of the order’s founding master (pir),2 Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi, known in the West as the Persian poet ‘Rumi’; the semahane, or the hall where sema ceremonies took place before 1925; and the recitation (tilavet) room. This central area is richly adorned with calligraphies and ceramic tiles. Precious objects, such as copies of the Qur’an, are exhibited behind glass. In the adjacent rooms, more objects associated with the Mevlevi order are displayed, alongside boards explaining their meaning in the dervishes’ lives. In these rooms, mannequins are used to re-create the community’s daily activities, such as cooking or praying in the çilehane.3 A very similar arrangement can be found at the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum, located in the much more isolated town of Hacıbektaş. There, the presence of the pir of the Bektaşi order attracts mainly local visitors and pilgrims. The fact that the tombs of the Sufi masters are located inside both these museums gives them an ambiguous status. They are simultaneously secu­ lar spaces that enjoy special significance in Turkey’s national narrative and sacred sites that hold a religious value for Sufi followers, especially as found­ ing masters are believed to remain alive in their grave after they die.4 Across

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a n a to l ia   |  89 Turkey, museumised tekkes, such as the Mevlana Museum of Konya and the Hacıbektaş museum, are important sites of piety for Sufi followers who, since the reforms of 1949, are legally allowed to engage in some religious rituals during their visit.5 Until recently, scholars have contended that the persistence of these ritu­ alistic behaviours in the museumised tekkes was evidence of the State’s failure to fully secularise Sufism in Turkish society (Harmanşah et al. 2004; Kezer 2000; Shaw 2002). The recent changes in Turkey’s political landscape, from a secular to a Sunni-led government, have prompted a new analysis by which religious praxis in the museum is primarily considered as a form of minority ‘resistance’ from non-Sunni communities, especially the Alevis (Harmanşah et al. 2004). This chapter shows that this analysis, which implies a strict dichotomy between the position of the State (secular or Sunni) and a heterodox ‘resist­ ance’ to official policies, is not representative of the visitors’ own understand­ ing of their ritual practice vis-à-vis secularity and religion in Turkish society. Using the Melvana Museum and the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum as case studies, my work suggests that visitors to these museums simultaneously accommo­ date and resist hegemonic discourse about secularity and religious identity. Without denying processes of conflict, repression and marginalisation, we see that the struggle between ‘the secular’ and ‘the sacred’ in tekke museums is by no means reflective of Turkish society’s polarity, but involves tropes that often become entangled in each visitor’s discourse. As I argue in the last section, this is symptomatic of wider debates regarding religion within Turkish society. The presentation of the two cases I analyse in this chapter is based on qualitative research I conducted in Konya and Hacıbektaş in April 2016, as well as on observations made on separate occasions. My analysis relies on visi­ tors’ impressions of the museums, whose testimonies I obtained during open interviews and informal dialogues. Although the museums receive visitors from all corners of the world, in this chapter I use data collected from domes­ tic visitors, since my intention is mainly to explore the local significance of these sites.6 Using local visitors’ reactions to the museums and contrasting them with the discourse offered by the information panels and brochures, I consider why two apparently very similar places, which underwent compar­ able processes of museumisation, led to different social debates.

90 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r Veils of Visibility: The Mevlana Museum In the important urban centre of Konya, previously the capital of the Seldjuk Empire, an industry has developed around the Mevlana Museum.7 In 2016, the city was awarded the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s annual title of ‘Tourism Capital of the Islamic World’8 and, according to information provided by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, in 2017 the Mevlana Museum became the most visited museum in Turkey.9 In Konya, every­ thing points to the Sufi character of the city: from the names of hotels and restaurants (‘Dervish’, ‘Rumi’ or ‘Dergah’10) to the strings of shops selling images of whirling dervishes, translations of Rumi’s poetry and CDs of ney11 music (Fig. 5.1). Unlike other museumised Mevlevi lodges in the country,

Figure 5.1  A hotel named ‘Dergah’, near the Mevlana Museum in Konya. Photograph by the author, 2016

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a n a to l ia   |  91

Figure 5.2  Sema ceremony at the Mevlana Cultural Center. Photograph by the author, 2016

the Mevlava Museum rarely stages sema ceremonies.12 Visitors, however, are invited to go to the Mevlana Cultural Center, one kilometre east of the museum, where they can attend a sema ceremony free of charge and buy souvenirs in the entrance hall afterwards every Saturday (Fig. 5.2). During my fieldwork, I was told many times that attending the sema at the Mevlana Cultural Center was crucial for ‘completing’ the Mevlana Museum visit. At first glance, the overwhelming display of Mevlevi Sufism in Konya appears to be an official sanction of Islamic mysticism, suggesting the over­ coming of an age of enforced secularisation. But however great the spectacle might be for the tourist eye, one should not immediately assume that visibility

92 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r equates to freedom of expression or inclusion. Behind what I term the ‘veil of visibility’ lies a series of interpretations regarding the usage of Mevlevi tradi­ tion and the place it holds within Turkey’s cultural and political landscape. Drawing from my conversations with local visitors to the museum, I found that the most important issue elicited by this conspicuous com­ mercialisation of Mevlevi Sufism was that of ‘authenticity’. The question of authenticity in museums has a long history of theoretical discussion, going back to Walter Benjamin’s famous essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, where he discusses authenticity in the context of mass reproduction. He argues that original artworks retain a specific ‘aura’ of exceptionality, which is enhanced by the institutional authority of the museums. It constitutes the main attraction for visitors, who are nowadays able to access different forms of copies of the same work of art in ways that were not even imagined in Benjamin’s time. In the case of the Sufi lodge, it is the content of the display that confers an ‘aura’ of exceptionality on the museum. The living presence of a Sufi master in his türbe works to transform the museum into a sacred site, despite it being a secular space (Fig. 5.3). This being said, the debate surrounding authenticity in museum lodges is not connected to the art it displays but to Sufism as a religious faction at large. The representation of ‘ancient’ Sufi life, following the style of an ethnographic museum,13 looks to invest a ‘lost past’ with the authority of ‘the authentic’. What I explore here are visitors’ responses to this claim of what ‘authentic’ Sufism means, especially in their relationship to the lodge: is a tekke transformed into a museum still a ‘real tekke’? Are the performances of the sema ‘authentic’ Sufi rituals, or merely shows? All my interlocutors felt compelled to address these issues when asked about their experience of the museum. Their ways of engaging with the problem of authenticity eventually formed a landscape of debates on wider concerns regarding Sufism, religion and secularism in contemporary Turkey. Here, I refer to three of the most comprehensive and coherent perspectives on the matter of ‘authenticity’ that I found in Konya.14 The first of these positions is one that looks at the museum as a mausoleum of Mevlevism. According to this interpretation, ‘real Mevlevis’, along with the other Sufi orders, were suppressed by the early Republican government, the sema ceremonies have become shows for tourists, and the Mevlevi lodge

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a n a to l ia   |  93

Figure 5.3  Türbe of Mevlana Jelal ad-Din Rumi. Photograph by the author, 2016

in Konya is now ‘only’ a museum. One of the interlocutors who expressed this position, a man from the region in his fifties, told me that his grandfather had been a ‘real dervish’, who had fought in the war of independence and died there, along with the rest of the ‘real’ Sufis. ‘During the war’, he said, ‘the last dervishes still performed some miracles that helped them to win battles, but then it was over.’ From this perspective, the transformation of the tekke into a museum is a decisive part of a discourse that assumes (but does not necessarily celebrate) a successful secularisation of Turkish society. Here, the museum does not function as a space for preserving something authentic but as a reminder that ‘authentic Sufism’ no longer exists, a perspective that resonates with Weber’s notion of modern secularity as ‘disenchanted’.

94 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r Another perspective was that of visitors who defined themselves as practising Muslims but refused to consider Sufism as a component of their religion even if they accepted it as part of their culture. One of my inter­ locutors, a young Sunni woman, explained to me that Mevlevi Sufism was ‘neither religious nor Islamic’ because ‘there is nothing in the Qur’an that mentions Sufi rituals’, such as the Mevlevi sema. However, for all that, she did not think that the museum or the public performances were wrong. She still believed that they were part of ‘Turkish culture’ and were ‘very pretty’. Her opinions about Sufism offer an alternative to the widespread notion that Muslims either embrace Sufism or reject it as an un-Islamic innova­ tion (bid’a).15 According to this visitor, the commercialisation of Mevlevi Sufism was deemed ‘pretty’ and ‘acceptable’, as long as it remained treated as a ‘cultural’ phenomenon. Under this perspective, the museum does not alter the ‘authenticity’ of Sufism, but merely exhibits it for what it is: a cultural, not a religious phenomenon. By placing Mevlevi Sufism outside the realm of religion, by secularising it (in the sense of separating the sacred and the secular) and understanding it as ‘Turkish culture’, its display in the museum is legitimised in a classical understanding of the museum as a space of intellectual authority dedicated to the representation of ‘national culture’. However, this way of considering the museum remains in tension with the more ambiguous message conveyed by the Mevlana Cultural Center, where the sema is simultaneously presented as a religious ceremony and a ‘folkloric’ spectacle. Finally, a third interpretation I found during my fieldwork was one that viewed the exhibition as inefficient in communicating Mevlevi Sufism to an uneducated audience. From this perspective, the tourist industry built around Mevlevi Sufism does not affect the authenticity of Sufism, but rather reveals a lack of understanding (or ‘ignorance’, as one of my interlocutors expressed it) about the deep meaning of what is exhibited at the museum and the cultural centre. This position was predominantly shared by people who defined themselves as practising Sufis. It places the problem of authenticity not on the objects or actions displayed, but on the gaze of the observers: it is their appreciation that is inauthentic, inasmuch as they claim to admire what they see while refusing to engage with it in a manner that allows them to understand it. According to this perspective, the disconnection between

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a n a to l ia   |  95 the tekke and the community does not turn the tekke into an ‘inauthentic’ space: its ‘authenticity’ is guarded by the presence of the Pir and the history of the objects on display; the representation of past ways of life is accurate but not essential to the definition of Sufi practice, which, as my interlocutor explained, had been preserved under a different appearance among people who continue to study the meaning of Mevlana’s teaching, practise the Mevlevi rituals in private spaces and follow the adab (code of behaviour) of a dervish. In other words, the way of life represented by the museum is neither ‘inauthentic’ nor essential to the existence of Sufism. A Centre in the Margins: The Hacıbektaş Veli Museum The most obvious difference between the Mevlana Museum and the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum is accessibility. Unlike Konya, which is an impor­ tant urban centre connected to Istanbul and Ankara by direct trains, there is no regular public transport available to Hacıbektaş, a town in the much less urbanised region of Cappadocia, and the options for accommodation are scarce. This town is, therefore, not prepared for the constant reception of tourists, but, to a limited extent, merely to accommodate pilgrims that organise their own private means of transport. Souvenir shops in front of the museum, and a few restaurants, display names related to Sufism and the Bektaşi tradition, but on a much smaller scale than in Konya (Fig. 5.4). The 45 kilometres that separate Hacıbektaş from Nevşehir, the nearest city, can only be covered by car. This fact alone influences who can visit the museum. The usual visitors are mostly Bektaşi/Alevi pilgrims,16 groups of students and locals. In 2014, after protests against ticketing practices17 took place in Hacıbektaş, entrance to both the Mevlana Museum and the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum was made free of charge, but the limited access to Hacıbektaş continues to affect visitor numbers.18 During my fieldwork at the Hacıbektaş Museum, I found that visitors’ conversations were quite different from what I had heard in Konya. Rather than tourism, the commercialisation of religion and the problem of ‘authenticity’, discussions tended to gravitate towards the marginalisation of the Alevi-Bektaşi followers, as well as the cor­ relations between Bektaşism/Alevism and some aspects of secular ‘modernity’. These debates are affected by historical circumstances. The Bektaşi expe­ rience of official closure of their lodges pre-dates the secularist reforms of the

96 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r

Figure 5.4  A café named ‘Dergah’ in Hacıbektaş. Photograph by the author, 2016

Turkish Republic by a century. In 1826, during the rule of Mahmud II, the Bektaşi order was banned after the destruction of the Janissaries, an extreme measure taken to modernise the Ottoman army. The Janissaries were closely connected to the Bektaşi tarika (Sufi order), but the official sources of the time refer to Bektaşi ‘heterodoxy’ as the reason for their persecution.19 In this context, the lodge in Hacıbektaş officially became Nakşibendi through the alleged ‘conversion’ of some of the Bektaşi dervishes to a more Sunnioriented tarika.20 The most visible mark of this time of persecution was left by the construction of the mosque, during the same year of the Bektaşi order’s banishment, a sign of the appropriation of the space by governmentsupported Sunni Islam that is still regarded as an intrusion by some AleviBektaşi visitors. Unsurprisingly, the mosque is usually empty, while stages of diverse forms of ritual behaviour take place in other areas of the complex. A significant element of the museography in the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum is the lack of explicit references to the first closure of this tekke. The 1925 closure of all tekkes is discreetly mentioned in one of the last halls,

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a n a to l ia   |  97

Figure 5.5  Plaque depicting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Turkish flag. Photograph by the author, 2016

where pictures of the last dervishes are displayed, but there are no references to the persecution the Bektaşis suffered in the nineteenth century or to the circumstances that led to the construction of the mosque. However, some of the visitors with whom I talked knew about this event through oral transmis­ sion or through publications from Alevi editorial houses. At the museum site, visitors can also see recently added visual reminders of the secular and republican values supported in contemporary Turkey: a large bronze plaque depicting Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and a flag containing the map of Turkey (Fig. 5.5), as well as a wooden board quoting Hacı Bektaş in Turkish and a smaller poster with an English translation, underneath which there is yet another poster (in Turkish) with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Fig. 5.6). The purpose of these displays is to present the Bektaşi tradition not only as part of Turkish culture but as aligning with ‘modern’ ideas supported by Mustafa Kemal’s project for a secular nation. Hacı Bektaş’s commands to ‘educate women’, ‘remember the humanity of your enemies’ and value

98 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r ‘­ science’21 are designed to invite comparison with the language of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stands here as a symbol of modernity or, in Kemalist jargon, ‘univer­ sal civilisation’.22 This discourse seems to have been embraced by the Alevi/Bektaşi commu­ nity living on the site, as similar associations can be observed beyond the State-controlled realm of the museum (Fig. 5.7). The visitors to whom I talked also responded positively to the introduction of Kemalist sym­ bols in the museum: ‘Atatürk is very important for us’, said Figure 5.6  Posters with the English translation of a middle-aged male visitor in Hacı Bektaş’s words and the Universal Declaration response to my enquiry about of Human Rights. Photograph by the author, 2016 the bronze plaque. As in the case of the Mevlana Museum, visitors pray at the türbes, but the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum allows for greater physical proximity to Hacı Bektaş’s sarcophagus (Fig. 5.8). Unlike the museum in Konya, where Mevlana’s sarcophagus is kept behind a barrier (forcing the visitors who pray to accept the distance of a spectator), in Hacıbektaş it is not unusual to see visitors lying on the floor alongside the sarcophagus, touching the fabric that covers it. I also observed many visitors kissing the door frames of the lodge, a gesture that is part of the proper adab (code of behaviour) when entering or leaving a tekke. Other actions, such as tying scarves to the trees and türbes, drinking water from the Lion Fountain23 and, in the case of women, praying without covering their hair, were described to me by visitors as characteristic to Alevi/Bektaşis and, therefore, different from Sunni-oriented Sufi practice.24 A representation of semah for tourists also takes place in the museum, but unlike the sema ceremonies at the Mevlana Cultural Center, which are

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a n a to l ia   |  99

Figure 5.7  A commercial venue in front of the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum with an image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk next to a scene depicting ‘Ali ibn Talib and a cem ceremony. Photograph by the author, 2016

presented to attending visitors as a ritual, it is barely advertised and the brochures distributed at the museum refer to it as a representation and not part of a real cem ceremony.25 Instead of inviting me to see this semah, some of the visitors I met, and a museum guard, insisted that I see the ‘hollow rock’

100 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r

Figure 5.8  The sarcophagus of Hacı Bektaş Veli. Photograph by the author, 2016

that they believe was Hacı Bektaş’s çilehane (township) to complete my visit to the museum (Fig. 5.9). Because of their history of persecution in late Ottoman times, the date of the closure of all the Sufi lodges does not hold the same significance for Alevi/Bektaşis as it does for the Mevlevis and other Sufi orders. Although the lodge retains its importance owing to the presence of Hacı Bektaş’s türbe, this place had suffered drastic State intervention before it was closed. Therefore, the museum became less associated with secularisation than with the mar­ ginalisation of Alevi/Bektaşis. Because of its significance for this minority, the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum is therefore a centre for those marginalised in a Sunni-centric religious landscape. This point was especially emphasised by one visitor who claimed that he had lived in Hacıbektaş since the 1980s, and that the town had undergone little change since his arrival because its inhabit­ ants are Alevi and, therefore, ‘ignored’ by the government. Notwithstanding its appropriation by visitors as sacred space, the museum remains a space controlled by an agent external to the Alevi/Bektaşi

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a na to l ia   |  101

Figure 5.9  The ‘hollow rock’ (deliklitaş). Photograph by the author, 2016

community.26 In this context, the reference to the ‘hollow rock’ as an indis­ pensable part of the visit is relevant because it transports part of the sacredness emanating from the presence of Hacı Bektaş outside of the museum and into a realm that is less tightly controlled by the State. This can be explained as an imaginative use of marginality, in which the margins are not only understood from the negative perspective of exclusion but construed as spaces where one can be physically and metaphorically distanced from officially sanctioned discourse and practice.27 Unlike the Mevlana Museum, where incorporation of official understand­ ings of secularisation and authenticity was only available through dialogue with visitors, in Hacıbektaş the positive appropriation of Kemalist symbols can be perceived visually as well as through dialogue. This accommodation to discourses that emanate from the State is accompanied by complaints about and uses of marginality, all of which only seems contradictory if we adhere to strict definitions of identity. An alternative to interpretations based on categories of identity is, then, the observation and analysis of social debates.

102 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r Lodges Provoking Debate The argument about the museumisation of the Sufi lodges as a strategy of secularisation, and the one that sees it as a process of enforced ‘Sunnification’ (Hayden 2016: 23), have in common that both understand it as an attempt to control these sites from the central power of the State. In the opening section I have shown how this attempt to centralise control is reflected in a museography which is both uniform and static and which, above all, presents Sufi lodges as archaeological remains of the past. In reaction to these attempts at controlling the space of the museumised lodges, visitors produce interpretations of these places. These interpretations are varied and reflect larger debates within Turkish society regarding polarity between ‘the secular’ and ‘the religious’, against a changing economic and political backdrop. Here, the sacred space is not the only part of the museums that is appropriated by visitors; elements of the official discourse about the lodges are also incorporated into visitors’ understandings and used in ways that invest their perspectives with authority. In the case of the Mevlana Museum, the visibility of Sufism, which could be interpreted as a sign of the Mevlevi tarika’s greater freedom of expression and the State’s tolerance of Sufism, is problematised by visitors who question the ‘authenticity’ of the Sufism on display. The main question they ask is whether the version of Sufism we see in the museum is still authentic, or if, by means of its ‘commodification’, it has been transformed into an empty shell. Within this debate, I have identified three different approaches to the museum display. The first resonates with a Weberian perspective, since it sees the museumisation of the Mevlevi lodge as signalling ‘the disenchantment of the world’; the second considers the museum as a means of secularising Sufism by projecting it into the realm of ‘national culture’; and the third, mainly shared by practising Sufis themselves, criticises this very commodified version of Sufism, which Sufis see as being destined for ‘uneducated’ visitors. This debate intensifies when visitors go to the Mevlana Cultural Center, where a Sufi ritual is performed as a spectacle. It is because of the more explicitly touristic expressions of Mevlevi symbols that the museum comes to be regarded through the lens of a debate on authenticity. If the debate inspired by the Mevlana Museum concerns what is

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a na to l ia   |  103 hidden behind the conspicuous visibility of Sufism in Konya, debates at the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum are influenced by the invisibility that comes with marginalisation. The fact that Alevi/Bektaşis were persecuted and the lodge at Hacıbektaş seized by the Ottoman government long before the Kemalist reforms produces a different approach to secularity in republican times: it is simultaneously resisted through ritualistic behaviour that constantly reminds of and affirms the sacrality of the site, and partially embraced as a system that protects Alevi/Bektaşi practice from Sunni persecution. While the approach to Kemalism suggests a strategy of establishing a link to a central and hegemonic ideology, the Alevi/Bektaşi community also takes advantage of being on the margins. A smaller number of external visitors allows the Alevi/Bektaşi community to be the main visitors to the place and to have a more intimate visit where ritual behaviour is privileged over and above ‘secular’ ways of interpreting the museum. The benefits of a marginal location are even clearer at the ‘hollow rock’, a space that shares with the lodge the sacredness imprinted by the presence of Hacı Bektaş but escapes the mechanisms of central control that are part and parcel of the museum. Through the analysis of debates such as those presented here, the discus­ sion about the transformation of sacred spaces into museums can expand beyond the question of whether the attempt at secularising these sites was successful or proved impossible. If we observe visitors’ approaches to the museumification of sacred spaces, we encounter complex and contesting understandings of the way in which being a museum affects the sacrality of the space. These understandings and the reactions they produce not only transcend the definition of an environment as either sacred or secular; they locate these experiences of the museums within larger struggles to imagine local and national identities, and help us to understand how the people associated with these museums negotiate their position within a changing network of power relations. Notes  1. Its original name was the Konya Museum of Ancient Artefacts, a title that attempted to erase the memory of the religious nature of the place, even if the ‘ancient artefacts’ on display came from Sufi lodges. It was not until 1954, after

104 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r the political transition to a multi-party system, that the museum in Konya became the Mevlana Museum.   2. Although neither Mevlana nor Hacı Bektaş Veli founded the Mevlevi or Bektaşi orders in the sense of initiating their institutional organisation, they are the spir­ itual guides after whom these orders were founded, and thus they are regarded as pirs. For more specific information (in Turkish) see Ceyhan 2015.   3. A çilehane or ‘house of suffering’ was a space in a Sufi lodge where those aspiring to be dervishes remained in seclusion as part of their spiritual training.   4. Sufi ‘saints’ or ‘friends of God’ (awliya Allah) are believed to be alive in their graves. Thus, many people go to these sites to pray for divine intercession, and to receive the masters’ baraka (blessing) and even their spiritual instruction, often revealed through dreams. Their living presence also implies an adab (code of behaviour).   5. For a detailed account of the process that led to the reopening of the türbes, see Zürcher (2001): 233.   6. Other approaches could address questions of pilgrimage and religious tourism, which are also relevant dimensions of the museumisation of tekkes, but are beyond the scope of this text.  7. For quantitative information on the tourist industry in Konya, see Kocigit (2016).   8. For a note on this designation at the OIC’s website, see the information avail­ able at (last accessed March 2018).  9. This information is available on the website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism: (last accessed 15 November 2018). 10. A synonym of ‘tekke’. 11. The reed flute known as ney is particularly important in Mevlevi rituals because of the references to it in Mevlana’s poetry. His Masnavi Ma‘navi starts with the lines ‘Listen to this reed how it complains: it is telling a tale of separa­ tions/Saying: Ever since I was parted from the reed-bed, man and woman have moaned (in unison with) my lament’. The English translation is taken from Nicholson (1926). 12. For references to the history of the performance of this ritual for tourists, see Ağaoğlu (2013) (in Turkish). 13. For an elaborated debate on the matter of authenticity in museums that also contemplates ethnographic exhibitions, see Hall (2006).

t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a na to l ia   |  105 14. Names and other personal information about my interlocutors have been anonymised to protect their privacy. The same discretion has been applied to all cases despite differences in interlocutors’ requests to remain unnamed. I chose this solution because I considered that the use of names was not relevant to the development of the argument. 15. See e.g. Sirriyeh (1999). 16. As a religious site, Hacıbektaş is of special importance to Alevis and Bektaşis, the followers of this saint’s spiritual path. Like Twelver Shi’a Muslims, Alevis and Bektaşis acknowledge the leadership of the Ahl ul-Bayt (Prophet Muhammad’s family) and the twelve imams, but they differ from conventional Shi’ism because they do not follow dominant Islamic practices, such as the five daily prayers, the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Ramadan fast and the ban on alcohol consumption, or else consider them to be optional. For a more detailed account of these features, see Moosa (1987): 120–3. The matter of the identity and difference between Alevis and Bektaşis is a source of much debate both inside and outside Turkey. The coincidences in their rituals and beliefs have led many authors to blend the two categories and refer to the Alevi-Bektaşis as a single community. Indeed, when I asked the taxi driver who took me to Hacıbektaş (and who self-identified as Alevi) what he thought of this distinction, he assured me that being Alevi and being Bektaşi were one and the same thing. Nevertheless, some specialists have insisted on pointing out the main difference between them: that the Bektaşi tarika is a Sufi order anyone can adhere to, while Alevi identity is hereditary. For a comprehensive work on the debates around the issue of Alevi/Bektaşi identity, see Dressler (2015); for classical works on Alevism, see Olsson et al. (1998) and Shankland (2003); for a historical work on the Bektaşi order, see Küçük (2002). 17. These protests were documented in Harmanşah and Tanyeri-Erdemir (2014). In the same article, the authors offer testimonies to the importance given at the time of their fieldwork to ticketing practices in the debates they witnessed about these museums. Changing policies also influence the importance given to certain topics in these debates, for the previous existence and recent disappearance of entrance fees to the museums were never mentioned by my interlocutors. 18. The officially reported number of visitors in the year 2017 is 498,880, almost 2 million fewer than the Mevlana Museum in Konya. (last accessed 14 February 2018). 19. Faroqhi (1976): 201. 20. The Nakşibendi order is commonly considered to be more Sunni-oriented than

106 | lucí a ci ri ann i s a l a z a r other tarikas, because it traces its silsila (a chain of Sufi masters connecting each tradition to the Prophet Muhammad) through Abu Bakar instead of ‘Ali ibn Talib. See Yükleyen (2008). 21. The word for ‘science’ used in the Turkish text is ‘ilim’, from the Arabic ‫علم‬, which would better be translated as ‘knowledge’ to avoid the anachronism that is, in this context, deliberate. 22. Although my interlocutors were not interested in discussing this topic, other works have elaborated on the acceptance of Kemalism by Alevi/Bektaşis. This is generally understood as a political alliance in which official secularism was embraced in the hope it would liberate religious minorities from Sunni persecu­ tion. See Olsson et al. (1998) and Hayden (2016). For an analysis of this topic from an Alevi perspective, see Perinçek and Korkmaz (1998). 23. The lion is a representation of ‘Ali ibn Talib, Muhammad’s son-in-law and true successor according to Shi’i Muslims. For a more detailed analysis of the symbolism of this fountain, see Zarcone (2012). 24. Some of these practices can actually be observed in other, non Bektaşi, Sufi places. What I am stating here are not facts but explanations from local interlocutors. 25. The term ‘semah’ comes from the same Arabic root as ‘sema’ (‫) َس َماع‬, a verb that means ‘to listen’, owing to the use of music in these rituals. Alevi-Bektaşi styles of semah are part of a ritual called cem, and they involve the stringed instrument called saz or bağlama. Unlike with forms of Sufi zikr like the Mevlevi sema, men and women perform the ceremony in the same room. It involves movements that are reminiscent of flying birds, and lamentations for the martyrdom of Hussain in Karbala, among other distinctive features. For detailed information about the debate concerning the performance of cem ceremonies inside the museum, see Harmanşah and Tanyeri-Erdemir (2014). 26. In the article quoted above, Harmanşah and Tanyeri-Erdemir note that the director of the Hacıbektaş Veli Museum, appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is usually the only member of the museum staff who does not identify as Alevi/Bektaşi. 27. Although this example is clearly less radical than the ones chosen by James Scott, the fundamental strategy is similar to what he describes in the fifth chapter of his book The Art of Not Being Governed. See Scott (2009).

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t w o m u seumi sed suf i tekkes i n a na to l ia   |  107 Azak, Umut (2010), Islam and Secularism in Turkey. Kemalism, Religion and the Nation State, London and New York: I. B. Tauris. Bein, Amit (2011), Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic. Agents of Change and Guardians of Tradition, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Benjamin, Walter (2007), Illuminations, New York: Schocken. Birtek, Faruk, and Binnaz Toprak (2011), The Post-Modern Abyss and the New Politics of Islam: Assabiyah Revisited, Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Press. Ceyhan, Semih (2015), Türkiye’de Tarikatlar. Tarih ve Kültür, Istanbul: İSAM Yayınları. Dandekar, Deepra, and Torsten Tschacher (eds) (2016), Islam, Sufism and Everyday Politics of Belonging in South Asia, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 19–39. Dressler, Markus (2013), Writing Religion. The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Faroqhi, Suraiya (1976), ‘The Tekke of Haci Bektas: Social Position and Economic Activities’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 7: 183–208. Hall, Martin (2006), ‘The Reappearance of the Authentic’, in I. Karp et al., Museum Frictions. Public Cultures/Global Transformations, Durham and London: Duke University Press, pp. 71–101. Harmanşah, Rabia, and Tuğba Tanyeri-Erdemir (2014), ‘Secularizing the Unsecularizable: A Comparative Study of the Hacı Bektaş and Mevlana Museums in Turkey’, in E. Barkan and K. Barkey (eds), Choreographies of Shared Sacred Sites, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 336–67. Hayden, Robert M. (2016), ‘Sufis, Dervishes and Alevi-Bektaşis: Interfaces of Heterodox Islam and Nationalist Politics from the Balkans, Turkey and India’, in D. Dandekar and T. Tschacher (eds), Islam, Sufism and Everyday Politics of Belonging in South Asia, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 19–39. Kezer, Zeynep (2000), ‘Familiar Things in Strange Places: Ankara’s Ethnography Museum and the Legacy of Islam in Republican Turkey’, Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, 8: 101–16. Kocigit, Murat (2016), ‘The Role of Religious Tourism in Creating Destination Image: The Case of Konya Museum’, International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, 4: 21–30. Küçük, Hülya (2002), The Role of the Bektashis in Turkey’s National Struggle, Leiden: Brill. Moosa, Matti (1987), Extremist Shiites. The Ghulat Sects, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Olson, Tord, Özclalga, Elisabeth and Raudvere, Catharina (eds) (1998), Alevi

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his chapter analyses the relationships between heritage and migrant identity in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It does so by examining how museums operate as sites of inclusion and exclusion, which produce distinct areas of ethnic spatiality that reflect and reinforce socio-ethnic cat­ egories in the UAE. I define the public external space of the museum as space that is part of the museum’s grounds, but is not part of the physical area of the museum building. This space can include, but is not limited to, museum courtyards, gardens, pathways, boulevards, and so on. I argue that the external public space of the museum operates as a ‘site’ of communal gathering which manifests particular national groups, and which results in the production of performances of culture and identity as a form of ephemeral performative heritage. Knell (2016b) has discussed how disabled and ­poverty-stricken individuals formed communities of desperation in Vancouver, and has argued that in doing so they acted to represent themselves and their varied predica­ ments through performative actions, such as the Bloody Sunday protests at Vancouver Art Gallery. The analysis of the public space around the museum has been marginalised within the academic literature. However, this public 111

112 | sari na wake f ie l d space of the museum is part of the museum’s overall space, and is therefore an important site of meaning-making. For example, De Micheli (this volume) discusses how local residents in Morocco prefer to visit the gardens at the Oudayas Museum rather than go inside the museum; this is despite incen­ tives offered by the Government. This chapter draws on over a decades of experience of living and working in the Gulf States. The findings discussed in this chapter were gathered during detailed ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Abu Dhabi over a period of several years (2015–17). My field research examined through interviews and observations how migrant labourers were engaging with museums and herit­ age spaces, and how these activities informed and shaped individual and group identities. My approach is positioned within the interdisciplinary field of critical heritage studies. I take the view that heritage is a ‘process’ that is connected to how people interpret, understand and give meaning to the past (Harrison 2013; Harvey 2001; 2008; Smith 2012). This chapter specifically focuses on how the public space of the museums is perceived and used by migrant labourers in the UAE. It seeks to explore and understand how migrant labourers use public spaces such as museums as active spaces of sociality and performance. In addition, the chapter contributes to our understanding of how alternative heritage discourses are produced through everyday leisure and social activities at museum sites. These expressions offer a unique window through which to explore migrant identity and how ephemeral and per­ formative forms of heritage are produced and made visible in the Gulf states. In doing so, this chapter contributes to international debates around migrant experiences of the public spaces of the museum and studies of museums and heritage in the Gulf region. Academic studies have predominantly focused on exhibiting and representing migration and immigration (Chiara Cimoli 2013; Gourievidis 2014; Poehls 2011; Smith 2017; Tanyeri-Erdemir and Çerçioglu Yücel 2013), migration and diversity (Little and Watson 2013; Ross 2013; Sandell 1998), the development of migrant museums (see Qian and Guo 2019 on China) and the relationships between artistic practices and migration (Dogramaci and Mersmann 2019; Ring Peterson 2017; Wakefield 2017). This chapter examines migrant experience of the public space of muse­ ums as an ephemeral performative heritage process. As such, it contributes to new ways of understanding migrant interactions with museums as public

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  113 spaces in the UAE. Owing to the authoritarian nature of the UAE and its tightly controlled heritage narratives, the chapter elucidates the social and performative nature of heritage from the migrant perspective. In doing so, it sheds light on the conditions under which these social activities emerge and thus contributes to international debates on heritage and migration in authoritarian nations. Ethno-spatiality and Identity in the UAE The UAE has imported labour in response to rapid economic and social developments in the UAE since the 1960s, leading to the presence of large numbers of temporary international workers (Bristol-Rhys 2010: 12). Recent figures provided by the digital media firm Global Media Insight (2019) sug­ gest that the Emirati population accounts for only 11.48 per cent of the pop­ ulation. Of the remaining 88.52 per cent, predominantly 61.59 per cent of residents come from Asian nations, particularly from China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The rest of the popula­ tion comprises Arab nationals from Egypt and Iran (8.99%), and all other countries (17.94%) (ibid.). Mohammed and Sidaway have suggested that, of the migrant labour force in the UAE, ‘less than 1% are in the highly paid professional segment’ (2012: 607). There are, however, important nuances distinguishing migrant populations and their experiences within the different Gulf states (Vora 2008). The term ‘migrant’ can be interpreted and deployed in different ways. Bristol-Rhys uses the term ‘ethno-economics’ to describe the process of categorising international workers on the basis of ethnicity in the UAE. She notes that ‘south Asians and Arabs from other countries . . . are referred to as migrants’, and that conversely ‘Westerners are not considered migrants in any context’ (2010: 26). This categorisation of people on the basis of profession has had a significant impact on spatial segregation (ibid.), identity and museums in Gulf societies. In this chapter, migrant workers are broadly defined as low-paid workers from South, Southeast and East Asia. It interrogates how migrant workers engage with and access museums in the Gulf, and focuses specifically on how they engage with museum space and what this can tell us about alternative uses of museum space and its role in identity production. In an early study, I discussed contemporary art and the representation of migrant labourers

114 | sari na wake f ie l d in the Gulf States as a contribution to heritage beyond the ‘officially sanc­ tioned’ accounts that have dominated discussions of Gulf heritage to date (Wakefield 2017). While many professionals have tried to conceal displays of overt nationalism, there remains a tremendous amount of nationalism in national museums and galleries in Western liberal democracies. Furthermore, nationalism is often pushed as a priority by national governments (Knell 2016a). In the Gulf States, dominant social identifications and group mark­ ers have gained currency through the overt positioning of national identity and nation building within the museums and cultural heritage landscape. National identity therefore remains the dominant critical framing concept, which serves to exclude alternative cultural and social markers. As Willis demonstrates in this volume and elsewhere (2016), museographic depictions of migrants and non-Arab residents are rare and are almost always exclusively connected to experiences of subordination to dominant identities. However, as I will demonstrate, migrant culture has found other ways to self-represent and lay claims on UAE identity. Heritage and Identity in the UAE The heritage literature has, up until recently, predominantly seen localism as a direct response to the threat of globalisation (Harrison 2010, 2013; Harvey 1989). Several studies have suggested that heritage in the UAE emerged in response to the risks associated with rapid economic and social development. This perceived threat was connected to the presence of large numbers of inter­ national workers (Fox et al. 2006; Khalaf 2000, 2002) and their potential menace to Islamic values and local traditions (see Fibiger 2011 on Bahrain). The concept of national heritage in the UAE has been overtly linked to nationality and lineage, which is set within an essentialised narrative based on a ‘pure’ origins approach. In the Gulf States, the issue of who belongs and who does not remains high on the agenda. The categorisation of individuals on the basis of nationality and profession has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on spatial segregation in the Gulf (Bristol-Rhys 2010). The hegemonic discourse of migration is explicitly linked to ‘foreigners’ who ‘do not belong’ and who are viewed as a threat to national identity (Wakefield 2017). In the UAE, fears about the loss of Emirati identity have been expressed through calls for greater controls when

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  115 it comes to the length of stay and settlement of migrant workers (Kamrava and Babar 2012; Mohammed and Sidaway 2012: 608). Workers are employed using labour migration policies that operate to restrict their working and social lives, which are used to ensure that they eventually return to their country of origin (Rahman 2005: 395). Similar patterns can be observed in other Gulf nations such as Bahrain and Qatar, and in Asian nations such as Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, to mention but a few. This process is used to ensure that migrant workers eventually return to their country of origin (ibid.). The worker sponsorship system is therefore an authoritarian tool that is employed to control the importation of labour and its effects in the host nation. Abuses of this system of sponsorship have come under increasing interna­ tional scrutiny and criticism. For example, reports by Human Rights Watch (2009, 2012a,b) suggested that migrant labourers working on the Saadiyat Island project were being subjected to ‘conditions of forced labour’, which included exploits such as: the forceful implementation of ‘recruitment fees that take the workers years to pay back’; changes and substitutions to con­ tracts without prior agreement, which result in ‘misrepresentation resulting in lesser time working or being forced to work a different job for less pay’; and/or the withholding of workers’ passports (Human Rights Watch 2012a: 23–34). Similar patterns of abuse have been reported in Asian nations. For example, a report by the Justice Centre of Hong Kong found that female migrant domestic workers were subjected to unexpected recruitment fees after arriving in Hong Kong, confiscation of passports and changes to work­ ing hours and employment benefits (2016: 43–54). The Saadiyat Island museum projects have also faced scrutiny concern­ ing the treatment of migrant construction workers by the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition. The Coalition has been involved in a series of protests and artist boycotts aimed at promoting improved working conditions for migrant labourers working on Saadiyat Island (Gulf Labor Artist Coalition 2019). More recently, several Gulf nations have attempted to regulate the sponsor­ ship system further to improve labour conditions and rights (Kamrava and Babar 2012). However, the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf States, and elsewhere, is a contentious issue that remains unresolved. The hegemonic discourse on migration has resulted in spatial seg­ regation within Gulf cities. Urban areas are divided into neighbourhoods

116 | sari na wake f ie l d where residents are physically and culturally divided. For example, segrega­ tion has affected housing patterns in the UAE, which are categorised into housing areas or ‘zones’ on the basis of nationality and financial wealth, or lack thereof. The creation of housing zones has resulted in what Khalaf describes as ‘segregated multicultural lifeways and identities’ (2006), which affect how d ­ ifferent transnational actors experience urban space. The city’s spatial dynamics are therefore part of, to borrow from Saskia Sassen, a larger ‘geography of centrality and marginality’ (1998: xv). For example, labourers are separated and placed in camps outside the city or are placed in less desir­ able neighbourhoods where they cannot be seen, resulting in a social divide whereby different ‘classes’ of citizens, national and international, reside and live in very different economic, political and social worlds (Elsheshtawy 2008; Khalaf 2006; Bristol-Rhys 2010; Vora 2008; Wakefield 2017). Urban space then is used to assert further control over those individuals who are seen as both economically and culturally impoverished. The result is that the migrant worker never entirely belongs in the Gulf city. It is through processes such as these that collective pasts are invented and the nation is produced and reproduced. Benedict Anderson ([1983] 2006) has argued that collective pasts are formed by communities of people who imagine their identities and the past in a similar way. The collective past is then materialised within museum and heritage institutions through the collection of stories, artefacts and artworks, which are used in the production of shared histories and ‘invented traditions’ (Hobsbawm and Ranger [1983] 2010). In the past, in Western Europe, dominant heritage discourses excluded individuals and groups who were considered to be from elsewhere through the presentation of selected aspects of the past to maintain both national boundaries and a traditional interpretation of national identity (Graham et al. 2004). Importantly, this process served to include and exclude specific individuals on the basis of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability and so on. Tony Bennett (1995), drawing on Foucault’s theories of power, has discussed how early nineteenth-century European museums functioned as spaces of education and control in the service of nation-states. At the same time, the museum was used to reinforce the superiority of the ‘west’ through the dis­ play of the ‘exoticised other’. This was achieved through ethnographic col­ lecting practices based on racial categorisations, which were deemed scientific

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  117 through the introduction of practices such as archaeology (Bennett 1995). Today, the Enlightenment ideals of these museums are widely disputed and generally accepted as outdated modes of communication within museums. As I have argued elsewhere, globalisation has affected how heritage is produced, which in turn has resulted in an increase in transnational heritage creation and the questioning of perceived boundaries (Wakefield 2013, 2014, 2017, forthcoming). However, transnational heritage production continues to be connected to power and identity concerns in support of the nationstate. Questions of multiculturalism, representation and social inclusion are therefore pertinent and directly relate to how national identity is defined and presented in the Gulf States. Since the 1990s, museums in the USA and the UK have striven to incorporate equality and diversity into their program­ ming and collections, which have emphasised collaborative practices and ­co-curation, consultation, equality and social inclusion (MacDonald 1998; Mason 2004; Peers and Brown 2003; Sandell 2002; Vergo 1989). However, the situation in the Gulf States is markedly different where the nation remains the dominant marker of identity recognition and group belonging. Erskine-Loftus (2013) has argued that participatory approaches to museum audiences are beneficial to Gulf museums. Education has begun to emerge as a priority area for some museums in the Gulf. For example, the Sharjah Museums Department has an active community outreach programme that aims to include excluded communities. However, male labourers residing in camps on the periphery of cities may well be excluded from many of these family-oriented activities (Wakefield 2017). In the Gulf States, heritage is linked to an essentialist notion of authen­ ticity that is explicitly linked to Emirati identity. Cultural heritage, in this sense, is used to reinforce the group identity of those who belong and to exclude those who do not. As Harrison has emphasised in a different context, authenticity is connected to the idea that ‘heritage is something that can be passed from one generation to the next, something that can be conserved or inherited, and something that has historic or cultural value’ (2010: 9). The notions of lineage and inheritance are inherently political and often deeply contested, and have led to heritage being interpreted and presented in rela­ tion to local and national identity claims, which are presented as inherent, natural and historicised (Bendix 1997). Schofield has conceptualised how

118 | sari na wake f ie l d ‘ownership’ of the past is related to our sense of place, drawing from examples from Europe and Australia (2010: 3). He suggests the following: Those that have lived there for generations will inevitably feel a sense of ownership of ‘their’ place, knowing it more intimately, and having m ­ emories and stories woven into its fabric. As a result, they will feel that their view should prevail . . . But this is to deny migrants a say. They may not have lived there for as long, but it nevertheless also becomes their place, and they too will have views and opinions about it. Those views will be shaped in part by the landscape and cultural traditions prevalent in the landscape they have come from, views (and their attendant practices) which may be at odds with those of the existing community.

It is those individuals who are perceived to belong who are included, and those who remain outside of the ‘officially’ sanctioned discourse – such as migrants – who are excluded. As I noted above, the notion of safeguarding in response to the ‘threat’ of the ‘outsider’ (the migrant worker) is central to the national heritage dis­ course. This perceived threat has led to the production of officially sanctioned heritage policies that give primacy to protecting and reinforcing national identity in the UAE. This strategy was exemplified in the conference ‘The Role of Museums and Cultural Institutions in Strengthening Identity’, which was organised by the Sharjah Museums Department. The conference, held at the Sharjah Archaeology Museum on 17 and 18 December 2013, focused on exploring how cultural heritage activities could be used to address the perceived adverse effects of globalisation on Gulf Arab identities. The ‘offi­ cial’ heritage discourse calls for the protection and preservation of Emirati national heritage and, at the same time, promotes the transmission of Emirati values. Cultural heritage is conceived in the present to bridge the past and the future, and to generate a perception of belonging. As a result, this perception of belonging is predominantly based on nationality and lineage. Museums in the Gulf have yet to begin to acknowledge and discuss issues of ethnicity and multiculturalism (Al-Qassimi 2013). Willis, in this volume, has analysed the women drummers in the Hall of Traditions in the National Museum of Bahrain and the limited depictions of African divers in the pearling exhibits within the Dubai Museum (2016). He observes that while

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  119 African divers are depicted in the imagery of pearl diving, they are absent from the accompanying national narratives that are used to authorise the past as purely Emirati. This lack of recognition and diversity is in stark opposition to the discourses of Western museology, which has increasingly focused on multiculturalism, inclusion (Vergo 1989; Witcombe 2002) and community engagement (Golding and Modest 2013). However, as Grosfoguel et al. note in relation to European migration, ‘migrants are not passive towards their lives and representations (2011: 1). They are social agents actively involved in their communities and socially vigilant of the way they are treated, per­ ceived and represented by the host society.’ As such, they ‘produce their own narratives and representations’. The same is true for migrant workers who are involved in temporary migration patterns. Therefore, as I will now demonstrate, migrant workers find new ways to challenge and shape their own narratives as migrants both at home and in their host nations. The Museum ‘Place’ How migrant labourers, and indeed all visitors, experience the museum in the UAE relates to the sense of ‘belonging’ and ‘not belonging’. Using the Museum für Kunsthand as a case study, Bradburne has analysed the rela­ tionship between museum architecture and space, arguing that the museum ‘must be understood in social terms’ (1999: 19). More recently, MacLeod (2013) has argued that museum architecture can create opportunities for social experiences and interactions that challenge the vision of the museum in often unexpected ways. In the UAE, the museum is used as an active space of migrant social practice, which is far removed from the officially sanctioned identity of these institutions. In the UAE, migrant labourers engage with museums in particular ways. I argue that migrant interactions with museum spaces represent a form of embodied experience and meaning-making. Smith argues that ‘heritage as an embodied performance of meaning and identitymaking can be understood as a process that actively works to assert or negoti­ ate the nature of individual and collective identity that interacts with societal acts of offering or withholding or respect and legitimacy’ (2017: 71). At museum sites such as the Abu Dhabi Car Museum in Liwa, Abu Dhabi, Dubai Museum, the Oman National Museum and the Al Am Palace in Oman, the ‘outside’ space surrounding the building is used extensively by migrant

120 | sari na wake f ie l d workers as a place of social interaction and leisure. Migrant ­workers use these spaces to take photographs, make video calls back home, eat communal meals, play games and meet friends and other family members who may also be resi­ dent in the host nation. Furthermore, these sites were also crucial for connecting with family through other migrants who may be arriving or just returning from their homelands (Mohammed and Sidaway 2012: 608). This process of group ‘belonging’ and identity formation can be observed in further uses of space. For example, Mohammed and Sidaway have noted in the UAE that migrants tend to visit specific sites such as Bangla Bazaar, Deira, Dubai, Al Molla, Abu Dhabi, Alam Supermarket, Al Ain, and Rolla Bazaar, Sharjah, which become ‘migrant enclaves’ (2012: 608). The temporary nature of residence and the absence of their families have affected how migrants experience the city. Similar patterns can be observed in the activities of migrant domes­ tic workers in Hong Kong. On Sundays in Hong Kong, migrant domestic workers gather en masse in public spaces, transforming them into enclaves of cultural and national identity production. The spaces occupied often include those around the city’s global conglomerates, which serves to rein­ force the insurrectionary nature of these encounters (Hou 2010), which have become ‘part of the spectacle of modern life in Hong Kong’ (Law 2001: 266). Sidewalks, plazas, markets, stairwells, metro stations, streets, pedestrian overpasses and so on are used as sites of ephemeral cultural performances. A range of activities occurs during these social gatherings, including those that typically happen in indoor commercial contexts, such as manicures and haircuts (Law 2001), in addition to more typical social activities such as eating, sitting and so forth. My observations in the Gulf have identified how migrant labourers use public space to reproduce and re-inscribe their identities abroad. For exam­ ple, within parks, museum grounds, empty building plots and labour camps, Sri Lankan, Indian and Pakistani workers play games of cricket. The act of playing cricket is seen as both a leisure activity and as a way of connecting with the homeland. Sports in this sense are an essential part of the reproduc­ tion of ‘national’ identity and the sporting heritage of the ‘home’ nations. However, spaces continue to be used ‘unofficially’ in different ways, most notably by low-paid migrant workers. When people co-ordinate their activi­ ties around shared histories or, as Anderson states, ‘imagined communities’,

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  121 they produce social relations that speak to shared national imaginings. In the process, sites are ‘fleetingly transformed’ (Elsheshtawy 2008) into places of social connection, group bonding and identity-making. The use of space in this way by migrant communities contributes to the museum’s visibility and vitality as a multicultural site. However, the museum as a visitable institution is less important as regards the use of these sites. Instead, the museum is appropriated and consumed simply as a public space. The public space around the museum, which has remained unclaimed and unlabelled, was known to be a space where migrant workers could gather to spend time. By using these spaces to engage socially and produce cultural and national identity, migrant populations claim and utilise the museum as a shared and iterative space, resulting in the manifestation of tangible and intangible heritage as ephemeral performances. Furthermore, interviews were suggestive of migrant workers’ preference for social activities such as sharing meals, conversation and relaxation over actual museum visits. The idea of not belonging to specific spaces in the UAE was connected to both the real and the imagined control that is asserted over migrant access to and use of space as places of embodied social experience. For example, the official line is that museums are accessible to all segments of society in the UAE. However, my interviews in Abu Dhabi suggested that migrant workers are often stopped by security as they believe that they are not allowed into the museum (Museum Representative 2018). Also, interviews with several migrant workers suggested that they did not feel that museums were places for them. Reasons for not visiting museums in Abu Dhabi included ‘They are not for us’, ‘Nationals don’t want us’, ‘Too much [the entrance fee] for us’, suggesting that barriers for migrant workers included perceptions around the cost of entry and social access to museum sites. This perception is partly fuelled by the highly stratified social relations that operate within Gulf nations and the use of urban space, as noted above. In Abu Dhabi, this has, in some cases, led to the destruction of areas where migrant cultural identity had become dominant. Elsheshtawy has argued that the Central Market District in Abu Dhabi did not fit the desired image for Abu Dhabi owing to the area’s population of small informal shops run by low-income migrant workers (2008: 283–8). As a result, the District was demolished and replaced with a modern souq.

122 | sari na wake f ie l d However, regardless of whether the workers were accustomed to muse­ ums, they were not seen as preferred spaces of social activity and connectivity. The social role of the museum for migrant labourers is culturally specific in the Gulf States. It is part of how the landscape of the museum is experienced and understood as a site, which affects how migrant labourers embody the space of the museum. In contrast to museum-consuming communities, the museum in the Gulf is valued among other things simply as a public space. However, in the case of migrant workers, who feel excluded or exclude them­ selves from the ‘traditional’ museum experience, they find the museum’s exterior a more appealing site of public space, which is consumed in social and performative terms. Ultimately, this ‘reflects the disparities associated with economic globalization and the profoundly uneven spatial geography of today’s global city’ (Nashashibi 2007: 124). The museum actively reproduces insider and outsider identity politics through the control of space and access to collections. Migrant Resistance and Representation There are parallel, and yet separate, experiences of socialised cultural perfor­ mances of heritage that occur both inside and outside of the museum. As such, these practices and performances also have other attributes in common. A phenomenon in the era of the mobile phone is that the public now col­ lect photographs of their favourite works during their museum visits; they effectively produce themselves in their own collections. A critical and per­ formative aspect of the migrant museum experience, which is not entirely exclusive to museum spaces, is the taking of ‘selfie’ photographs. Gardner has observed in Bahrain that ‘mobile phones play a series of cultural, social and communicative roles in the lives of workers who are otherwise constrained in terms of mobility, living patterns and activities’ (2010: 36). However, the mobile phone is also important as a form of identity transmission. The mobile phone is used by migrant labourers to capture images of themselves in ‘attractive’ spaces within the Gulf, which are often in stark opposition to their actual living quarters (ibid.: 54 on Bahrain). Migrants take photographs at carefully curated sites. As a long-term resident in the Gulf, having lived in both Bahrain and the UAE, I am familiar with the sight of migrants taking what often seem to be quite random pictures next to sites that would not

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  123 be considered ‘tourist’ sites by any stretch of the imagination. These care­ fully curated images create a manufactured and romanticised identity that in reality is far removed from the migrant labourers’ cultural opportunities and social status in the Gulf States. Therefore, the production of labourer narratives through the selfie photograph directs our attention to the more performative nature of heritage production taking place in spaces around the museum. Through these alternative readings, migrant workers effectively pro­ duce their own museum-like performances in the spaces around the museum. Furthermore, these visual representations serve to challenge the depictions of migrant labourers, such as those produced by contemporary artists, which predominantly focus on their profession as the dominant marker of identity (Wakefield 2017). When migrant labourers are represented, their sociocultural position within the Emirates and their exclusion from dominant identity markers is reinforced. I have shown how migrants use museum spaces to engage socially and at the same time produce cultural and national identity and thus, arguably, manifest tangible and intangible heritage as ephemeral performances. I argue that in doing so, migrant workers are also constructing an alternative narra­ tive of the UAE, which produces an insurgent performative heritage. The use of space ‘outside’ the museum presents opportunities for alternative narra­ tives, where migrant labourers actively ‘manufacture’ an identity that visually situates them in the national story and identity of the UAE. The ‘outsider’ becomes the ‘insider’ through the production of visual imagery by connecting himself or herself to the urban cultural landscape, which serves as a site of resistance to the ‘officially’ sanctioned national heritage discourse. The con­ sumption and re-appropriation of museum sites provide a unique window into how images of the city are inscribed in the migrants’ lives. These images are then consumed transnationally and become part of what is essentially a transnational form of heritage. These spaces are created as ‘imagined com­ munities’ where membership is based on national and kinship ties (Anderson [1983] 2006). In UAE national belonging, it is explicitly linked to Emirati nationality. Temporary and transitory sites of connection create a sense of social belonging and serve to reinforce migrant national identity within the Gulf City. As Schofield points out, migration leads to a loss of connection to the homeland. At the same time, it brings new opportunities to connect

124 | sari na wake f ie l d with new places (2010: 3). The labourers in effect create new connections and identities as transnational workers within the space of the Gulf museum. These ‘sites’ are active and invested with meaning and signification through the migrant labourers’ engagement with the landscape of the museum. These temporary and transitory sites of connection create a sense of social belonging and serve to reinforce migrant national identity within the Gulf City. Conclusion Analysis of how migrant labourers use museum spaces creates ethno-spatial encounters that produce a performance of culture and identity which oper­ ates as a form of ephemeral performative heritage. Migrant worker encoun­ ters with public spaces such as museums demand scrutiny as encounters with active and meaningful social spaces that are connected to migrant national identity. These encounters are suggestive of the nuanced ways in which more ephemeral and performative heritage is produced by groups that are mar­ ginalised from museums and heritage representations. Arguably, in the Gulf states, the museum serves to perpetuate and reinforce an existing class struc­ ture that is heavily segregated by ethnic classifications. However, observations and interviews at museum sites in the Gulf also suggest that migrant workers appropriate public spaces, transforming them into sites of counter-narratives. These transitory cultural engagements are imbued with social agency and serve as sites of shared cultural and national identity, resulting in the produc­ tion of tangible and intangible heritage as ephemeral performances. In this way, migrant workers are also constructing an alternative narrative of the UAE through their engagements with museums. Ultimately, migrant work­ ers produce their own museum-like performances in the spaces around the museum. Bibliography Anderson, Benedict (2006[1983]), Imagined Communities, London and New York: Verso, 3rd edn. Bendix, Regina (1997), Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Bennett, Tony (1995), The Birth of the Museum: Culture, Policy and Politics, London and New York: Routledge.

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128 | sari na wake f ie l d Nashashibi, Rami (2007), ‘The Blackstone Legacy, Islam, and the Rise of Ghetto Cosmopolitanism’, Souls, 9, 2: 123–31. Peers, Laura and Alison K. Brown (2003), ‘Introduction’, in Laura Peers and Alison Brown (eds), Museums and Source Communities, London: Routledge, pp. 3–16. Poehls, Kerstin (2011), Europe Blurred: Migration, Margins and the Museum’, Culture Unbound, 3: 337–53. Al-Qassemi, Sultan S. (2013), ‘Treasure Troves of History and Diversity’, Gulf News, 25 January, (last accessed 14 December 2016). Qian, Junxi, and Junwan’guo Guo (2019), ‘Migrants on Exhibition: The Emergence of Migrant Worker Museums in China as a Neoliberal Experiment on Governance’, Journal of Urban Affairs, 41, 3: 305–23. Rahman, M. M. (2005), ‘Bangladeshi Migrant Workers’, Asia-Pacific Population Journal, April 20, 1: 63–88. Ring Petersen, Anne (2017), Migration into Art: Transcultural Identities and ArtMaking in a Globalised World, Rethinking Art’s Histories, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Ross, Cathy (2013), ‘From Migration to Diversity and Beyond: The Museum of London Approach’, in Christopher Whitehead, Susannah Eckersley, Katherine Lloyd and Rhiannon Mason (eds), Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe: Peoples, Places and Identities, Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 183–206. Sandell, Richard (1998), ‘Museums as Agents of Social Inclusion’, Museum Management and Curatorship, 17, 4: 401–18. Sandell, Richard (2002), Museums, Society, Inequality, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Sassen, Saskia (1998), Globalization and Its Discontents, New York: New Press. Schofield, John (2010), ‘Preface; Sense of Place in a Changing World’, in John Schofield and Rosy Szymanski (eds), Local Heritage, Global Context: Cultural Perspectives on Sense of Place, London: Ashgate, pp. 1–12. Smith, Laurajane (2006), Uses of Heritage, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Smith, Laurajane (2012), ‘Editorial’, International Journal of Heritage Studies. 18, 6: 533–40. Smith, Laurajane (2017), ‘“We Are . . . We Are Everything”: The Politics of Recognition and Misrecognition at Immigration Museums’, Museum & Society, 15: 69–86. Stein, Jill K., Cecilia Garibay, and Kathryn E. Wilson (2008), ‘Engaging Immigrant Audiences in Museums’, Museums & Social Issues, 3, 2: 179–96.

e t hni c spati a li ty i n the u a e    |  129 Tanyeri-Erdemir, Tugba, and Gozde Çerçioglu Yücel (2013), ‘Migrant Memories on Display: Migration Museum and Exhibitions in Germany’, in Christopher Whitehead, Susannah Eckersley, Katherine Lloyd and Rhiannon Mason (eds), Museums, Migration and Identity in Europe: Peoples, Places and Identities, Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 233–52. Vergo, Peter (1989), The New Museology, London: Reaktion. Vora, Neha (2008), ‘Producing Diasporas and Globalization: Indian Middle-Class Migrants in Dubai’, Anthropological Quarterly, 81: 377–406. Wakefield, Sarina (2013), ‘Hybrid Heritage and Cosmopolitanism in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’, in Pamela Erskine-Loftus (ed.), Reimagining Museums: Practice in the Arabian Peninsula, Edinburgh and Boston: MuseumsEtc, pp. 98–129. Wakefield, Sarina (2014), ‘Heritage, Cosmopolitanism and Identity in Abu Dhabi’, in Karen Exell and Trinidad Rico (eds), Cultural Heritage in the Arabian Peninsula: Debates, Discourses and Practices, Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, pp. 99–116. Wakefield, Sarina (2017), ‘Contemporary Art and Migrant Identity “Construction” in the UAE and Qatar’, Journal of Arabian Studies Arabia, the Gulf, and the Red Sea, CIRS Special Issue: Art and Cultural Production in the GCC, 7, 1: 99–111. Wakefield, Sarina (forthcoming), Cultural Heritage, Transnational Narratives  and Museum Franchising in Abu Dhabi, Abingdon and New York: Routledge. Willis, John T. (2016) ‘A Visible Silence: Africans in the History of Pearl Diving in Dubai, UAE’, in Karen Exell and Sarina Wakefield (eds), Museums in Arabia: Transnational Practice and Regional Processes, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 34–50. Willis, John T. (forthcoming), ‘“The Performance of Servitude”: Negotiating Citizenship, Race, and Gender in Local and National Museums in Bahrain and the UAE’, in Virginie Rey (ed.), The Art of Minorities: Cultural Representations in Museums of the Middle East and North Africa, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Witcombe, Andrea (2002), Re-imagining the Museum: Beyond the Mausoleum, Abingdon and New York: Routledge.




n July 2015, international and local guests, officials and religious representatives gathered around His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, in the city of Jbeil (Byblos), Lebanon, to launch the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Aram Bezikian Museum. This private museum is dedicated to the experience of the orphans who took refuge in Lebanon to escape the Armenian Genocide of the Great War and is located in the site of an orphanage. The Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum is not the first museum in Lebanon to explore the Armenian past: that honour belongs to the Cilicia Museum, established in Antelias in 1998, and exhibiting a large collection of Armenian religious material culture, such as manuscripts, chalices, golden crosses, etc., dating from the twelfth to the early twentieth century. Like the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum, the Cilicia Museum is built on a site that was used as an orphanage for Armenian children refugees to Lebanon. As such, both operate as a lieu de mémoire, that is, according to Pierre Nora’s (2001) terminology, ‘a site that has become a symbolic element of the memorial heritage of any community’. Despite these similarities, the ways in which the Cilicia Museum and 130

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  131 the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum engage with memory and com­ munity are markedly different. At the Cilicia Museum, the display works along aesthetic lines. It has no clear storyline or socio-political message about the Armenian minority to convey. Such a museographic style can be observed in most Lebanese museums. In the case of the National Museum of Beirut (1930), Lina Tahan’s work (2010: 299; 2014) shows how the persistence of a French colonial narrative and a static museography – mostly unchanged for the past 76 years – have contributed to alienating the Lebanese public, who simply do not identify with the display. Elsewhere, Tahan (2005: 90–1) concludes that the National Museum of Beirut ‘emerges clean, shiny, serene, perpetual and hollow, with no story to tell’. In this chapter, we show that the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum works differently. We argue that while being a commemorative site for the Armenian Diaspora, the exhibition offers a point of cultural contact between communities. Our research found that the poignancy of the narrative, com­ bined with a highly sensory museographic experience, triggered reactions of national solidarity and empathy in visitors, regardless of their religious and/ or ethnic affiliations. We can say that, in presenting the moving story of the Armenian orphans in Lebanon, the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum ‘holds a mirror up’ to domestic visitors (Gokcidgem 2016: xx–xxi), who are encouraged to recognise their country’s positive conduct during a period of crisis for the region. In a country where national museums are still to propose a national narrative, and where sectarianism continues to dominate the social fabric, the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum offers a sense of ‘collective memory’, substituting for more recent episodes in Lebanese history that are yet to be included in the country’s ‘memoryscape’ (Larkin 2012). This chapter investigates how the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum acts as a space – even if just an interstitial one – that encourages the fostering of universal ideals, such as empathy, compassion, tolerance, peaceful coexist­ ence, respect for human rights and human dignity, as well as its potential as a site of social integration within Lebanon. Our conclusions are based on data collected during a ten-month fieldwork investigation carried out between December 2015 and June 2016, during which we conducted audi­ ence behaviour research and interviews with willing visitors. We start with an analysis of the socio-political factors that have led to the creation of the

132 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n museum, offering a brief overview of the history of the Armenians and their establishment in Lebanon. We then move on to explore the narrative and scenography used in the permanent exhibition, reflecting on the discourse and its socio-cultural repercussions. We also elaborate on the strategies used within the museum to teach the Armenian Genocide to school and university students. We conclude by discussing the viability of such a memorial space in the Lebanese context. Brief Historical Context Historic Armenia is one of the oldest continuously inhabited countries in the Near East (600 bce). Over time, its people developed cultural traits, such as a specific alphabet, a language and a folklore, that prove the existence of a distinct national entity. Historians agree that, in the early fourth century, Armenia became the first officially Christian nation (Grousset 1947: 122). After the fall of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1080–1375 ce), the Armenian territories were constantly fought over. As early as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Armenian popu­ lation was divided between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, with most of its territories under Ottoman rule. During this period, the Empire already comprised different ethnic and/or religious groups – Jews, Christians, Druze, etc. – and was frequently in an unstable situation. By the late nineteenth cen­ tury, the Ottomans faced two specific problems: progressive territorial disin­ tegration and the maintenance of national integrity and uniformity. Between 1894 and 1895, Sultan Abdul Hamid II started the systematic extermina­ tion of Armenians, to ‘homogenise the ethnic population’ (BoudjikanianKeuroghlian 1982: 472). At this point, the Armenians began to organise themselves in self-defence. The Sultan used this stirring to validate his plan to annihilate the numerical and moral strength of the Christian Armenians, whose existence was causing difficulties for his government (Granovsky 2016: 12). These massacres began in Trabzon, north-east Anatolia, and spread across the province. The death toll reached 300,000 (Boudjikanian-Keuroghlian 1982: 472). Later, in 1909 in Adana, another 30,000 Armenians were slaughtered (Der Matossian 2011: 155). Following the rise of Turkish nationalism, and with the establishment of the Young Turks nationalist party, a policy of ‘Turkification’ was imple­

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  133 mented on all populations within their territory (Üngör 2008). With the Empire entering the Great War on the German side, and the continuing persecution of non-Turkish populations in deliberate Ottoman defiance of international opinion, the minorities faced long periods of economic, cul­ tural and physical harassment, which culminated in 1915 with the Armenian Genocide (Kévorkian 2006: 58–9, 67).1 This led to the systematic extermina­ tion of 1.5 million Armenians.2 The Armenian Diaspora in Lebanon As a result, thousands of refugees were scattered through the Middle East and were gathered in camps in Lebanon and neighbouring countries. About 200,000 Armenian orphans were evacuated from Anatolia to other parts of the region (Toynbee 1916: 510). Seven thousand orphans reached Lebanon,3 many of whom were saved thanks to rescue operations carried out by differ­ ent organisations such as the American Near East Relief (NER), the Danish Women’s Missionary Workers and the Armenian Vorpekhenam organisation, among others (Kévorkian 2006: 61). The NER arrived in 1919 and ran large institutions throughout the region. In 1920, it established an orphanage in Jbeil that operated until 1925 (Kévorkian 2006: 84). The Jbeil orphanage reo­ pened in 1928 under the supervision of the Danish. It became known as the Birds’ Nest Orphanage, and is where the current museum is located (Fig. 7.1). In 1924, the Treaty of Lausanne recognised the sovereignty of the new Turkish state according to the present Turkish borders (Kévorkian 2006: 104). As a result, the remaining Armenians were evacuated to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus and Greece. The question of a long-term solution for the settlement of the Armenian refugees started to be an evident issue in Lebanon. The priority was to find a secure shelter for the children and insure their future by educating and teaching them skills, such as weaving, embroi­ dery, carpentry, sports and music, as well as teaching them their mother tongue and the Christian religion to valorise their identity. That same year, 1924, the Armenians in Lebanon received Lebanese citi­ zenship,4 a measure that officially signified their social and political integration into the making of the Lebanese population (Kévorkian 2006: 104). During that time, the French mandatory powers ruling the nation (1923–43) started to plan for the permanent establishment of Armenian refugees in Lebanon.

134 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n

Figure 7.1  The entrance to the museum. Photograph by the authors, 2016

After Lebanon gained its independence in 1943, it established a unique multi-confessional political system based on a power-sharing representation of religious communities and a separation between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. According to that tradition, a specific number of seats are reserved for the Armenians in Parliament.5 A survey undertaken by Minority Rights Group International reports that there were 156,000 Armenians in Lebanon in 2015 (around 4 per cent of the population). The Armenians constitute a well-established community in Lebanon. First, Armenians have benefited from the support of well-established Christian communities in Lebanon (Greenshields 1978: 197). Second, Armenians commonly feel they are a constituent part of the country since the Holy See of Cilicia was officially transferred in 1930 by the Catholicos Sahag Khabayan II from Sis (modern-day Kozan, Turkey) to Antelias, Lebanon.6 Third, their skills in craft work and jewellery-making gave them access to prominent economic positions within Lebanese society (Kévorkian 2006: 240–3). However, the interaction between position and power among political and religious leaders in Lebanon has always produced a canvas of unusual political complexity,7 and as part of the Christian minority in the region,

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  135 Armenians have had their share of hard times and continue to struggle. Also, although their social, political and economic rights are protected, the Lebanese-Armenians’ sense of identity is still sometimes disputed (Papikyan 2017: 4). On the one hand, some of them do not identify as Lebanese, espe­ cially those confined to purely Armenian neighbourhoods, where even shop names are written in Armenian. On the other, some Lebanese citizens regard Lebanese-Armenians as foreigners, mainly those who do not know the histori­ cal specificities that led to the existence of this diaspora in Lebanon. Besides, it is important to recall that Arabic is a Semitic language and Armenian is an Indo-European one. Consequently, phonetics, morphology and syntax differ, making it hard for many Armenians to master proficiently the Lebanese dialect and the written Arabic language.8 This in itself makes it more difficult for non-Armenian-speaking Lebanese to communicate with the minority and to accept that Armenians are, in fact, compatriots. These historical and socio-political factors underscore the importance of a museum such as the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum in Lebanon, and the potential role it could play in negotiating the identity of the Armenian minority. The Museum and the Symbolism of its Storyline Before undertaking an analysis of the museum’s narrative and its implications for the Armenians in Lebanon, we need to describe the exhibition itself and its scenography, according to the official discourse of the museum and the vision and objectives of the scenographers, Raffi and Vicken Tarkhanian.9 The power of the exhibition perhaps relies on the fact that its curators are Lebanese-Armenians.10 The interpretation of the entire storyline is not an outsider’s interpretation but rather an insider’s approach to history, wherein the Lebanese-Armenians seize the museum as a means of recounting their story. The museum features five exhibits divided into halls that seek to summa­ rise modern Armenian history (Fig. 7.2). The first zone, ‘The Extermination Process’, presents the life of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the mas­ sacres perpetrated by the Ottoman government up until the 1915 Genocide. The second zone, ‘The Orphans of the Genocide’, highlights the life of the orphans and the role of the various non-governmental organisations and

136 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n

Figure 7.2  The plan of the museum exhibition. DoonBeyt Design, 2014

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  137 Western missionaries that helped resettle the surviving children in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon. The third exhibit, ‘Renaissance’, shows the first camps, up until the final settlement and rehabilitation of the Armenian fami­ lies in Lebanon. The fourth hall, ‘Claim for Justice’, is dedicated to Genocide recognition, while the fifth zone, ‘Mama’, is dedicated to the memory of Maria Jacobsen, the Danish missionary who arrived in Lebanon in 1920 and devoted her whole life to the thousands of orphans in the Birds’ Nest. The entire storyline is communicated using audio-visual material, such as documents, text panels, objects, facsimiles, photos, projections, videos and music. The texts are displayed in four languages: Arabic, Armenian, English and French. A visit to the museum starts in the courtyard, next to the grave of ‘Mama’ Maria Jacobsen (Fig. 7.3). Following children’s footprints carved in brick-red cement, visitors reach the canopy, made of tin plaques that symbolise the first solid and definitive shelter that Maria offered to those young Armenians (Fig. 7.4). Underneath this structure, statues of children made of scrap metal sit on the floor. During a conversation, the artist Mossig Guloyan explained to us that the facture of these sculptures represents the scattered life of children

Figure 7.3  The grave of Maria Jacobsen. Photograph by the authors, 2016

138 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n

Figure 7.4  The canopy. Photograph by the authors, 2016

Figure 7.5  The entrance floor and statues of orphans. Photograph by the authors, 2016

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  139

Figure 7.6  Sculptures of orphans. Photograph by the authors, 2016

put together again by ‘Mama’ Maria (Figs 7.5, 7.6, 7.7). In the background, ­visitors can hear on a loudspeaker the sounds of children playing, adults reciting lullabies and sea waves crashing. Once one is inside the building, the visit starts in the ‘Extermination Process’ hall, with the first display panels featuring the cultural and religious life of the Armenian population living in Turkey under the Ottoman Empire. Religious hymns accompany visitors as they walk the path of history below the vaulted nineteenth-century Ottoman ceiling. In order to give the audi­ ence appropriate historical context, the museum describes the different waves of massacres (1894 and 1909), up to the 1915 Genocide. These are printed on twisted black panels, which symbolise grief, broken lives and a sad history. The Genocide is chronologically divided into four major phases: Stage 1. The arrest of elite Armenians, who were deported on 24 April 1915. Stage 2. The elimination of the conscripts of the Third Army and adult males between the ages of 16 and 60 in May and June 1915.

140 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n

Figure 7.7  Detail of the sculptures. Photograph by the authors, 2016

Stage 3. The deportation of women, children and the elderly from 1915 to 1921. Stage 4. The destruction of villages and the massacre of the population, either on the deportation road or on the so-called slaughterhouse sites. On the opposite side of the black panels, visitors follow the march of the deportees’ convoys on an animated map showing the location of the slaughter camps and the pockets of resistance. At the centre of the hall a cracked bell hangs, from the ceiling, with a missing clapper and a rope dangling down. According to the scenographers, this bell reminds visitors that the massacres

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  141

Figure 7.8  The ‘Orphans of the Genocide’ hall. Photograph by the authors, 2016

occurred to silence the Church. At the same time, it points to the fact that the West did not react against these atrocities until the end of the war.11 Right behind the bell, a panel shows portraits of the 275 Armenian intellectuals and leaders deported on 24 April 1915. Visitors continue their walk on an upward ramp, suggesting the difficult walk into the Syrian Desert during the mass deportation, while looking at harsh images of the atrocities committed before reaching the second zone of the museum dedicated to the orphans and the orphanages. The second hall, ‘Orphans of the Genocide’, the core section of the museum, is divided into two subsections that recount the history of the orphanages and the life of the orphans, in addition to showcasing some of their belongings and a list of their names (Fig. 7.8). The first impressive scenography in this hall is a row of barefoot legs carrying a panel displaying the orphans’ identity cards instead of their heads. Another panel dedicated to the means of transportation shows the difficulties faced by the orphans in crossing the Mediterranean or the desert to reach the Arab countries. The second scene comprises three white curtains hanging from the ceiling, on which images of the orphans are projected, while their names are recited on

142 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n a loudspeaker (Fig. 7.9). The eerie, ghost-like projections that come and go on the translucent veils make one think of the distressing moments each and every fragile human life endured at that time. The leaning Plexiglas pillars with photos of well-nurtured orphans symbolise their rise, however unstable, once they reached what was to become their new homes. This generation was encouraged to perpetuate its Armenian identity and culture. The bust of the orphan Aram Bezikian, whose son, Alecco, financed the museum project, is placed in a blind arcade to affirm that the will of the orphans to survive and their ambition to build a future life were not in vain. Further down, several panels explain the history of the network of orphanages that were created to save thousands of children. An entire panel is devoted to the story of the Birds’ Nest in Jbeil. This orphanage, founded in 1920 by NER, as we saw, was run by the American missionary Ray P. Travis. Like all NER institutions, it was an important centre for Christian educa­ tion as well as Armenian language, history and workmanship (Kévorkian 2006: 70–1). When it was closed down in 1925, the children were trans­ ferred to the Birds’ Nest in Sidon, south of Lebanon, an orphanage run by the Danish Kvindelige Arbejdere Missions (Women’s Missionary Workers Organisation). In 1928, the Birds’ Nest then moved from Sidon to Jbeil and Maria Jacobsen assumed control of the institution. It continues to operate as an orphanage under the patronage of the Armenian Catholicossat of Cilicia. In this part of the hall, one can see objects belonging to the orphans, such as a birth certificate, an identity card, a diploma, photos, embroideries, a bible signed by Maria Jacobsen in Armenian and an Armenian songbook, as well as a carpet woven by girls. In addition, a board dedicated to Araxie Kaloustian and her sister, who were saved by a Turkish woman, reminds visi­ tors that some Turkish families showed compassion towards Armenians by hiding them and taking care of them. Then, there is a list of the 1560 names of the orphans who lived in the orphanage of Byblos between 1920 and 1925. This is followed by one panel dedicated to the Lebanese victims of the Great Famine in Mount Lebanon caused by the Ottoman regime. By the end of this part, visitors are fully familiarised with the life of the Armenian orphans. Visitors continue towards the ‘Renaissance’ hall. After the French troops departed from Cilicia in 1921, entire families started arriving in Lebanon and Syria. They were settled in tent camps. Later, Armenians built tin houses,

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  143

Figure 7.9  The white curtains. Photograph by the authors, 2016

144 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n churches and schools. The audience also learns that the education of the refu­ gees inside the camps was carried out by the intellectuals and the clergy, who taught religion and Armenian language. A geometrical Plexiglas shape occu­ pies the centre of this section. It symbolises the reconstruction of a nation, block after block. Inside the boxes, visitors can actually see some objects used by the refugees in the camps, such as a camera, a sewing machine, shoemak­ ing tools and so on, evidence of their craftsmanship. The fourth part of the museum is the ‘Claim for Justice’ hall. Photographs representing two of the most important Armenian gatherings in memory of the Genocide are displayed – the fiftieth commemoration day (1965) and the centennial of the Genocide (2015), both in Lebanon – as well as photos of memorials dedicated to Armenian victims worldwide. A screening of Ravished Armenia (1919), originally a Hollywood silent movie, also known as Auction of Souls, tells the story of Aurora Mardiguian, a survivor of the Genocide. The visit to the museum ends with a display of some of the belongings of Maria Jacobsen, the ‘Mama’ of the Birds’ Nest orphans (Fig. 7.1).

Figure 7.10  ‘Mama’s’ hall. Photograph by the authors, 2016

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  145 Audience Observation The Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum offers a visitor-centred experi­ ence. Not only does it rely on a highly sensory style of exhibition technology that draws the public into the heart of the storyline of the orphan refugees; it also keeps track of visitor reactions, conducting regular studies that began with the museum’s original opening. The results of these studies are presented here below in order to highlight how the museum is creating space for the promotion of universal values, such as friendship and tolerance, peaceful coexistence, respect for human rights and human dignity. In fewer than three years, 11,211 people visited the museum.12 The majority of visitors (70 per cent) were of Armenian origin (Lebanese and non-­ Lebanese), whereas 6.36 per cent of the total were non-Armenian Lebanese and Arabs, and 4.64 per cent were foreigners; 19 per cent of the visitors were between the ages of 13 and 21, of whom 97 per cent were Lebanese-Armenian and 3 per cent were non-Armenian Lebanese. During fieldwork, we noticed that, regardless of age, nationality and ethnicity, most visitors displayed reactions of empathy towards the Genocide. In some cases, tears were shed by both Armenian and non-Armenian visitors. The three main groups of visitors under study that are relevant to our research are:13 1. Turkish visitors, who constitute 1 per cent of the 4.5 per cent of foreign visitors. 2. Elderly Armenians from Lebanon. 3. Young non-Armenians from Lebanon. The very first Turkish person to visit the museum was a young tourist who claimed that she was just passing by. During her visit, she was moved by the story of the young Turkish mother who saved two Armenian children (Araxie Kaloustian and her sister). At the end of the exhibition, she said: ‘My grandmother was from Erzerum [an Armenian village in Turkey]. I’ve always believed that she was Armenian, and this is why I was curious to visit the museum!’ Another Turkish visitor, a history professor in Lebanon, visited the museum with his students and kept telling them: ‘We talked in class about

146 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n the official Turkish version of these events, and now you’ve seen the other version . . . Read between the lines, extract the actual facts from both versions and don’t forget, the result is the same: death and violence every time in history, even though what is mainly disputed is the number of the death toll.’ Another significant cluster of visitors who toured the museum during our fieldwork were elderly Armenians from the first-generation survivors fol­ lowing the Genocide. Some of them were born in the camps. Others were orphans or children of orphans. Many displayed strong feelings during their visit, especially when they found the names of some relatives or friends on the list of orphan residents. Their emotional reaction was even greater if they knew Maria Jacobsen or any of the missionaries who had worked with her. For some, emotions were felt so strongly that they had to walk away from the display and stay outside alone for a while. We observed that many first-generation Armenian migrants who visited the museum stopped to paid respect to Maria’s grave and kept thanking her, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, the Bezikian family and everyone who had participated in making this memorial-museum possible. One visitor explained that it was ‘a part of their life that had been honoured and engraved forever’. Many asked that the whole world recognise the Genocide, especially the Turkish government, and they hoped that the world would stop violating basic human rights. The last most important group of visitors in the museum were the non-Armenian Lebanese. Most of them told us that they had at least one Lebanese-Armenian friend. After the visit, many stated that they had always wondered why there were Armenians in Lebanon. One visitor said: ‘I’ve always underestimated the historical sufferings of the Armenians.’ Some nonArmenian Lebanese visitors said that the visit helped them appreciate why Armenians are very strongly bonded, continue to consider Armenian as their mother tongue, and are so attached to their cultural and religious traditions. At the end of the visit, they shared their intention to tell other non-Armenian friends to visit the museum. Part of the museum’s educational mission is to document, analyse and exhibit knowledge about the Genocide. Since history books in Lebanon do not mention the Genocide,14 the museum has prepared material to edu­ cate students about Armenian history in the region, including short movies, story writing and role-playing exercises. The museum also carries out spe­

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  147 cial programmes designed for students from mixed confessional and social backgrounds, featuring conversations with former residents of the Birds’ Nest. These programmes aim at opening up a dialogue within society about Lebanese-Armenian history, as well as to integrate Armenian orphans within society. In addition, the museum offers educational kits specifically prepared for university students, mostly students in Law, Human Rights, Minority Studies and History, that prompt them to think critically about the moral questions raised by the Genocide. In positioning the trauma of the Armenian Genocide in the context of Lebanese history, the museum invites visitors to create parallels with the country’s more contemporary struggles. Interestingly, the visit prompted many visitors, especially the young, to talk about the Lebanese Civil War. Some even put forward the need to create a museum about the Lebanese Civil War: ‘Something like this might bring us closer together’, one visitor said. A young uneducated non-Armenian Lebanese visitor, who did not read the display panels and declared he was politically active, ended up speaking about the ‘absurdity of wars’ and about the importance of a non-violent approach to conflicts and to political difference. At the beginning of his visit, he was much more pessimistic. Conclusion In his germinal introduction to The Museum Time Machine, Robert Lumley (1988: 1) considers the museum to be ‘a potent social metaphor and a means whereby societies represent their relationship to their own history and to that of other cultures’. The Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum is a site that recounts the experience of Armenian orphans in Lebanon, from the perils of the Genocide to their resettlement in the Birds’ Nest orphanage. It sheds light on the history of a minority culture that is still seeking accept­ ance and/or recognition from all the Lebanese. However, the museum does not play on the divisive politics of identity. It does not engage with the political complexity of contemporary nation-building in Lebanon; it does not stand as a claim for autonomy or as a political statement. Furthermore, it does not approach the Armenian–Turkish conflict as a Christian versus Muslim one. (With the exception of the bell and the discreet religious hymn,15 there are no other religious denotations throughout the storyline.)

148 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n On the contrary: this research shows that, while the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum is a cenotaph for the Armenian community, it works as a meditative space that seeks to make Lebanese visitors reflect upon their status as members of one national community. The history of Armenian orphans in Lebanon is framed within a larger national tale of kindness and solidarity. An emotionally charged museography works to open up a national conversation about suffering, belonging and discrimination, in the shadow of the not-too-distant trauma of the Civil War. It raises awareness of the contemporary significance of the Armenian Genocide, but it also advances circumstantial questions regarding the complex layers of identities shaping Lebanon and the Levant. This last fact is important in a country where there is no national history museum and no official consen­ sus regarding national historical events post 1944 in school history books (Kawtharani 2018). The Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum calls for an understanding of present circumstances that goes beyond socio-political and sectarian divides. It focuses on the positive story of the integration of the Armenian diaspora. Through the powerful emotions it evokes, the institution engrains a quiet sense of optimism in its visitors, some of whom were proud to share that they had come back for a second visit with friends to share their experience. However, important questions remain. As the museum is mostly visited by the Armenian community, how can it work to attract a non-Armenian audience, from Lebanon and outside? And can it be an even more effective agent of change? Much work remains to be done by the museum team to create and implement a communication plan and an outreach strategy. But for now, the Armenian Genocide Orphans’ Museum is a first chapter in the writing of Lebanon’s collective history. It offers a safe alternative, until more tormented periods of history can be addressed. Notes   1. Note that the Ottomans also killed other Christian minorities living in Anatolia.   2 1.5 million Armenians were killed out of the 2 million living in the Ottoman territories. The number 1.5 million is disputed (it varies between 800,000 and 1,500,000).   3. The number of orphans living outside Turkish territories were 7,000 in Lebanon,

arm e nia n g enoci de orphans’ mus e um    |  149 2,500 in Syria. A small number of orphans were also found in Greece and Cyprus.   4. Along with the rest of the population, who were given Lebanese citizenship for the first time in history.   5. Out of 128 seats, the Lebanese-Armenians are guaranteed six.  6. Some Armenians wanted the Catholicossat to be established in Aleppo, but Aleppo did not contain any convenient building. It was too close to Turkey and socially unstable (Yeghyayan 1972: 325). The NER had already bought the land in Jbeil, where the orphange was established, and later bought the land in Antelias and sold it to the Catholicossat for a peppercorn sum.   7. Religious leaders across the spectrum are highly involved in politics.   8. Note that Armenians tend to send their children to Armenian schools.   9. The scenography and architectural renovation of the museum were created and executed by DoonBeyt Design, Sarl, owned by Raffi and Vicken Tarkhanian. 10. The museum’s scientific committee, the museographer and the scenogra­ phers are all Lebanese-Armenian, except for one historian, who is FrenchArmenian. 11. Note that most of the museum archival photographs were taken by European and American officers present in the Ottoman Empire at the time. 12. Compared with numbers from other museums in Lebanon located outside Beirut, the number of visitors is very high. 13. Visitors went on guided tours. We recorded their reactions during their visit. 14. Only the students following the French Baccalaureate Programme have a chap­ ter in their history book about this topic. 15. The bell and the hymns are not obvious and are not mentioned on any written panel or label.

Bibliography Boudjikanian-Keuroghlian, A., et al. (1982), Histoire des Arméniens, Paris: Privat. Der Matossian, B. (2011), ‘From Bloodless Revolution to Bloody Counterrevolution of 1909’, Genocide Studies and Prevention, 6, 2: 152–73. Gokcigdem, E. M. (2016), Fostering Empathy Through Museums, London: Rowman & Littlefield. Granovsky, S. (2016), ‘Armenian Genocide. The Silenced Extermination’, (last accessed 2 June 2018). Greenshields, T. H. (1978), The Settlement of the Armenian Refugees in Syria and

150 | rhéa da g her a nd r ita k a l in d j ia n Lebanon, 1915–1918, doctoral thesis, Durham University, (last accessed 11 November 2018). Grousset, R. (1947). Histoire de l’Arménie: des origines à 1071, Lausanne: Payot. Kawtharani, W. The Problem of a Unified Lebanese School History Book ‫ مدرسي واحد في لبنان‬,‫وجوه من مشكلة كتاب تاريخ‬, (last accessed 8 June 2018). Kévorkian, R. H., L. Nordiguian, and V. Tachjian (2006), Les Arméniens, 1917– 1939: la quête d’un refuge, Beirut: Presses Universitaires de Saint-Joseph. Larkin, C. (2012), Memory and Conflicts in Lebanon: Remembering and Forgetting, London: Routledge. Lumley, Robert (1988), The Museum Time Machine: Putting Cultures on Display, London: Comedia. Nora, Pierre (2001). Rethinking France: les lieux de mémoire. Volume I: The State, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Papikyan, A. (2017), The Impact of Religion on the Preservation of Armenian Identity in Lebanon, PhD thesis, Georg-August Universität Göttingen. Tahan, Lina (2005), ‘Redefining the Lebanese Past’, Cultural Diversity and Heritage, Quarterly Review, (last accessed 12 June 2018). Tahan, Lina (2010), ‘New Museological Ways of Seeing the World: Decolonizing Archaeology in Lebanon’, in Jane Lydon and Uzma Rizvi (eds), Handbook of Postcolonial Archaeology, London: Routledge, pp. 295–302. Toynbee, A. (1916), The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–16: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (No. 31), HM Stationery Office, Sir J. Causton. Üngör, U. (2008), ‘Geographies of Nationalism and Violence: Rethinking Young Turk “Social Engineering”’, European Journal of Turkish Studies. Social Sciences on Contemporary Turkey, 7, (last accessed 15 June 2018). Yeghyayan, P. (1972), Contemporary History of the Armenian Catholicossat of Cilicia 1914– 1972, Lebanon: Imprimerie du Catholicossat de Cilicie.


The Palestinians have been telling their story for decades and no one – and by that I mean no one in Western, pro-Israel countries – has ever listened to them.

– Joseph Massad (2006: 79) Introduction: De/territorialising the Museum


n June 2017, the online book retailer Amazon’s sales in its ‘Israel & Palestine’ section were topped by the title A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era, which also ranked as the 500th most-sold item on the overall site. Its contents comprised 132 blank pages (notwithstanding a title page containing a statement attributed to a Seinfeld character – ‘just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it’). The text’s ‘author’, an Israeli columnist and PR professional, Arthur Voll, described his work as the fruits of extensive labour; ‘the most comprehensive and extensive review of some 3,000 years of Palestinian history, with emphasis on the Palestinian people’s unique contribution to the world and to humanity’. The book was removed from Amazon’s site soon afterwards, but continued to circulate to abundant glee in the chambers of social media, with the applause emanating predominantly from the right of the Israeli political spectrum. Though a 151

152 | zoe holma n short-lived source of public titillation, the incident signified the continued vitality of a more enduring political, social and cultural impulse to abrogate Palestinian history and identity – on the part of Israel, and by extension, among its Western allies. Such a tradition was aptly articulated more than thirty years ago in Edward Said’s observation that ‘the Palestinian narra­ tive has never been officially admitted to Israeli history, except as that of “non-Jews”, whose inert presence in Palestine was a nuisance to be ignored or expelled’. As he later noted of a growing international complicity in this discourse, ‘to top it all off, Palestinians are expected to participate in the dismantling of their own history’ (2000: 251). The project of dismantling, or altogether erasing, the narrative of a people who constituted the majority population of the Israeli state until less than fifty years ago can also be discerned across the country’s landscape. In the ancient Mediterranean port of Jaffa, for example – once the largest city in historic Palestine, home to some 800,000 Palestinians – visitors can read about more than a millennium of local history in up to four languages. None of them is Arabic. A commemorative plaque in Hebrew beneath the town’s central monument, a clock-tower constructed by the Ottomans in 1900, extols ‘the Memory of the Heroes who Fell in the Battle to Liberate Yafo’. Few of the Palestinian residents who remained in Jaffa after 95 per cent of their neighbours were displaced by Zionist forces in 1948 are to be found in the flea-markets, wine bars and galleries that now dominate the sea-front of what is today renowned as Tel Aviv’s ‘bohemian’, ‘mixed’ neighbourhood. Among the carefully restored cobbled streets and squares, Jaffa’s former cen­ tral mosque has meanwhile been left to decay beyond recognition, pungent with bat droppings and garbage. Similarly, Hebraised place-names on the highways leading out of town elide any hint of a Palestinian past. Jerusalem no longer appears as ‘al-Quds’ in Arabic script, but ‘Urushalim’. Just as these reconfigurations of space, language and narrative proliferate throughout Israel, they also permeate the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt) or ‘West Bank’, where Israeli settlements, highways, military zones, industrial sites and ‘national parks’ increasingly attempt to sever the land from its Palestinian history. Of this contemporary mise-en-scène, Khaldun Bshara observes how, after establishing themselves in Palestine, Israelis claimed what remained of the ‘sacred landscape’, incorporating it within the Israeli narrative by

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  153 giving places, sites and roads new names (toponymically claiming the space). Thereby, one nation was founded and another was annihilated (2009: 4). The decades since Israel’s formal, unilateral declaration of statehood in 1948 have thus been defined by efforts to rebuild a semblance of Palestinian nationhood in official, cultural and geographic terms. In the political realm, practices of resistance which seek to emulate or pre-empt formal statehood in the absence of any such extant arrangements have emerged in symbolic poli­ cies such as the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s recent bid for full recognition at the United Nations. Simultaneously, artistic and heritage projects have sought to advance national cultural institutions for the state-tocome in what Chiara De Cesari deems a form of ‘anticipatory representation’ (2012: 91) In 2016, after almost a decade of development, the first of these efforts was realised in concrete terms in the form of the Palestinian Museum in the West Bank town of Birzeit. The $30 million project, whose foundation stones were laid in 2013, is the only institution dedicated to preserving two centuries of Palestinian heritage to have joined the International Council of Museums. The project was conceived more than twenty years ago as an institution centred around memorialising the Palestinian Nakba or ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 – that is, as a ‘major commemorative structure built around a single chrono­ logical narrative, from ancient times to present’ (Doumani in Bieman 2014: 163). However, by the time the inaugural exhibition opened in summer 2017, the museum’s charter was quite different. Located seven miles north of Ramallah and around nineteen miles from Jerusalem, with a view across the contested terrain, the project aims to reconstruct and represent a coher­ ent, authoritative Palestinian narrative. Simultaneously, however, it claims to eschew the traditional approach of an iconic national structure housing fixed exhibits and enshrining a romantic or defensive portrait of the past. The transnational, philanthropic institution instead contains a permanent collection, online archive and series of travelling exhibitions, with the aim of linking those living in historic Palestine with others dispersed in the global diaspora – a kind of de-territorialised, networked archive that mirrors the Palestinian condition (Doumani in Bieman 2014: 165). As is noted by Beshara Doumani, the Haifa-born Palestinian-American historian who was tasked with the feasibility study for the museum in 2009, these manifold

154 | zoe holma n aspirations presented from the outset a difficult and challenging task. In 2011, Doumani described his conception of the project as follows: the museum can attempt to be an embodiment of the Palestinian bodypolitic, but in a transnational not territorially-fixed setting . . . A mobilis­ ing and interactive cultural project that can stitch together a fragmented Palestinian body politic by presenting a wide variety of narratives about the relationship of Palestinians to land, each other and to wider world. How this is done is of utmost importance.

Indeed, actualising these (often competing) visions for the museum over the years since has confirmed the tensions and conflicts implied by the very concept of a Palestinian national museum. How (and if) the originating aims of the project have been achieved in the final instance will be examined in this chapter through reference to the museum’s background, design and exhibits, as well as the many past and present obstacles to preserving Palestinian herit­ age. As Omar Al Qattan, the former Chair of the Palestinian Museum, said regarding the imperative of devising new strategies for such a project, ‘if geographically we are dispersed, divided and prevented from moving freely within our country; if politically we are incoherent and without direction; if most of us have no access to our capital in Jerusalem; and if Israel has never been so powerful, what can we do to subvert and bypass these challenges?’. In order to appreciate the magnitude and implications of these challenges for a heritage project such as the museum, it is first necessary to make a brief tour through the historical, political and ideological terrain. A Logic of Elimination: Dispossession and History As mentioned in the introduction of this volume (Rey, this volume), an essay on a national Palestinian museum does not sit easily or comfortably (with the author, and surely for many readers) in a volume themed around ‘minorities’. There are many reasons for this. The most obvious, perhaps, is that Palestinians do not constitute a minority in the territory where the museum is situated – territory which they nominally govern (though claims to Palestinian autonomous governance may now be incredible, if not laugh­ able). Even beyond the oPt, Palestinians make up around half the total population of Israel and the West Bank (territories which Israel in practice

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  155 governs). Yet this is too simplistic a conception. For Palestinians do techni­ cally represent a minority within the borders of the Israeli state (around 20% of the total population), as well as those of the many countries to which the Palestinian diaspora has migrated. Nonetheless, the very employment of a term such as ‘minority’ to describe the indigenous inhabitants of a land is misleading, if not manifestly dangerous. As has been its function in other ‘multicultural’ settler-colonial societies like Australia and North America, this description elides the violence and dispossession involved in the process by which the indigenous population found itself in the minority. Which is to say that it is too tidy a term, implying a pre-existing cultural order that belies the forces through which another people have found themselves in the majority – in the same fashion that landscapes have been re-ordered to suggest that the current propriety of a majority over the land was ever thus. The category of minority, as used in modern liberal democracies (as Israel claims to be), evokes a social status that is somehow conclusive, static. It does not evoke that of a ‘demographic threat’, as Palestinians have been described, which continues to be subject to vital efforts at displacement, erasure and abrogation. Terminology therefore risks becoming an ally of the status quo. Omar Jabary Salamanca (2012: 3) has recently questioned as follows the connotations of an accepted political and academic lexicon used to describe the situation in Israel-Palestine: When did Palestinians ever find themselves in a ‘post-colonial’ condition? When did the ongoing struggle over land and for return become a ‘postconflict’ situation? When did Israel become a ‘post-Zionist’ society? When did indigenous Palestinians in the Galilee (for example) become an ‘ethnic minority’? And when did the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the consequent fortification of Palestinian reserves become ‘state-building’?

Such an observation recalls pioneering Zionist efforts to cast Palestinians as a minority in their own land in the nascent stages of Israel’s establishment. Among them Mattiyahu Drobles, the author of Israel’s 1978 West Bank colonisation plan, wrote, in advocating his project, that ‘being bisected by Jewish settlements, the minority population will find it hard to create unifica­ tion and territorial contiguity’ (cited in Makdisi 2010a: 122). The destructive power of conceptualising Palestinians as demographically outnumbered is

156 | zoe holma n all the starker in the light of this strategy, which continues to emerge in Israel’s present-day policies. Of such a practice, Saree Makdisi observes how Palestinians are described ‘as a “minority”, even though they compose the majority of the population of the West Bank. This suggests their new status (literally their minoritisation in geographic and spatial, as well as political terms) as a disenfranchised group trapped – pinned down in – a smooth Jewish-Israeli space surrounding them on all sides, from which they are excluded by virtue of not being Jewish’ (2010b: 538). Apparent here is what scholars of settler-colonialism have described as the ‘logic of elimination’ – a mindset that animates all efforts on the part of the coloniser to undermine and expel the native population. In its application to the context of Israel, such a logic has produced not only material and geographic erasure, but also social, cultural and discursive dissipation of the Palestinian entity. As Patrick Wolfe (2006: 388–90) notes: Elimination refers to more than the summary liquidation of Indigenous people, though it includes that . . . The positive force that animated the Jewish nation and its individual new-Jewish subjects issued from the nega­ tive process of excluding Palestine’s Indigenous owners . . . As the logic of elimination has taken on a variety of forms in other settler-colonial situa­ tions, so, in Israel, the continuing tendency to Palestinian expulsion has not been limited to the unelaborated exercise of force.

If framing Palestinians as a ‘minority’ in demographic terms is therefore both numerically inaccurate and discursively insidious, it is perhaps more accurate to conceive of their narrative as being that of the minority, sub­ ject as it has been to ongoing efforts at elimination. And it is the minority status – and the process by which it has come to inhabit such status – of the Palestinian narrative that is central here. For where the logic of elimination has sought to erase and disavow Palestinian history, it has equally given rise to a dominant narrative that justifies such acts of erasure on the part of the majority. As Zina Jardaneh, current Chair of the Board of the Palestinian Museum, notes, ‘Palestinians are being portrayed as a minority on their own land, which is part of a Zionist narrative that Palestinians did not exist on this land before’. Manifesting more crudely in projects like Voll’s recent bestseller, this narrative of disavowal has emerged in numerous strands of

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  157 religious, political and social discourse in Israel (and beyond) over the past century. In its seminal form, it is perhaps best described by the Israeli his­ torian Ilan Pappe (2007: 11), who conceives of Israel’s (continuing) project through the lens of settler-colonialism: To bring their project to fruition, the Zionist thinkers claimed the bibli­ cal territory and recreated, indeed reinvented, it as the cradle of their new nationalist movement. As they saw it, Palestine was occupied by ‘strangers’ and had to be repossessed. ‘Strangers’ here meant everyone not Jewish who had been living in Palestine since the Roman period. In fact, for many Zionists, Palestine was not even an ‘occupied’ land when they first arrived there in 1982, but rather an ‘empty’ one: the native Palestinians who lived there were largely invisible to them or, if not, were part of nature’s hardship and as such were to be conquered . . .

The present-day political articulations of such a narrative can be (a little too) readily identified in the claim by Israel’s Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, that ‘[the Palestinians] have no place here. They can take their bundles and get lost.’ (It is worth noting that Lieberman himself came to Israel as a twenty-year-old Moldovan immigrant.) This is an articulation that is unequivocal in its conviction of ownership. And in being so, it recalls a discourse of nation put forward by Ghassan Hage (2010: 42), that of ‘homeliness’ and of an occupier with a privileged mode of inhabiting it. As Hage describes it, the nation becomes a ‘space of self-affirmation . . . a space under their control and domination where they have the right to remove any­ thing which threatens the possibility of making the nation homely’. Such a discourse is relevant here because it has inherently shaped Israel’s narrative of propriety over the land and culture in historic Palestine, and thereby has also indelibly shaped Palestinian history. Just as the Israeli claim to territory has been justified by the re-harked Zionist myth of ‘making the dessert bloom’, so too Palestinian heritage has since the Nakba seen itself erased or annexed by its purportedly ‘natural’ custodians. Inexhaustible Reservoirs: Narrative, Assets and Ownership Of Israel’s settler-colonial project, Makdisi (2010b: 526) notes:

158 | zoe holma n In this case, the removal or eradication of the indigenous population to make room for the incoming settler population was not completed ­successfully . . . The sheer persistence of the Palestinian presence represents a threat to Israel’s claim to an exclusively Jewish identity. How can a state claim to have one identity when such a large proportion of the people over whom it claims to rule have another identity?

As is apparent here, the enduring presence of Palestinians on land over which Israel asserts Jewish dominion has been a determining force behind its national narrative – as well as among those continuing the Zionist settler project beyond its formal state borders. Claims to Jewish culture and heritage have been inextricably bound up with, or in many cases the chief source of, claims to land in historic Palestine. As De Cesari (2017: 748) observes, herit­ age in the region is ‘deeply intertwined with the making (and unmaking) of the postcolonial state. In Palestine/Israel, heritage has developed over a long history into an important site where both state power and resistance against it are produced, reshaped, and disseminated. Accordingly, it has been neces­ sary to continually re-state a definitive Jewish connection to local cultural assets through a narrative which seeks to dispel or defeat this extent threat of opposition. While Palestinians have historically fought back against such an assault, with their ongoing resistance animating Israeli narrative, the Zionist project has in many cases won out in its claims to culture and heritage. According to Qattan, ‘we [Palestinians] were a poor, rural society which, while rich with a wonderful vernacular culture, did not really have the means to resist the onslaught of Western settler colonialism – first in the form of the British mandate, but more tragically, in the form of Zionism, which not only coveted the land of Palestine but was and continues to be obsessive about co-opting its cultural heritage for the exclusive use of a very narrow-minded nationalist Jewish interpretation’. Though evident throughout the state of Israel, the most vehement (and arguably most pernicious) incarnations of this interpretation can be found in various sites of Jewish illegal settlement in the oPt, where the driving contest for land remains very much alive. Foremost among these sites is the city of Al Khalil – or ‘Hebron’ as it is more commonly known, by its Jewish biblical and colonial title (the nomenclature in itself being telling). Al Khalil is the

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  159 largest town in the West Bank and the only urban site outside Jerusalem in which settlements have penetrated into the city centre. The reason for this is the presence of the so-called ‘Cave of the Patriarchs’ or ‘Ibrahimi Mosque’ as it is known in Islam, a 2,000-year-old structure where the prophet Abraham is reported to be buried alongside his wife Sara and various other key biblical figures, including Isaac, Rebecca and Jacob. The monument has made the city the second-holiest in Judaism after Jerusalem. It has also attracted the most extreme ideological brand of religious settlers, who have succeeded in officially dividing the city into two distinct areas of Jewish and Arab residency – a division which is rigorously enforced by Israeli Security Forces (ISF) and frequently described as akin to apartheid. While a Jewish minority historically inhabited the city for periods, the entire population was evacuated by British colonial forces in 1929 following a notorious massacre in which 67 Jews were murdered by assailants from the Arab majority. The 1970s, however, saw the return in growing numbers of Jews in the form of religious settlers, bringing with them a narrative of ownership which has radically altered the Palestinian character of the city. The Ibrahimi Mosque, now divided between Muslim and Jewish areas of worship, is fortified by ISF checkpoints and soldiers who police, search and frequently turn back Palestinian worshippers. In areas of Israeli control, where Palestinian non-residents are restricted but foreign tourists move freely, the streets are dominated by ‘historical’ markers that narrate the Zionist claim to its sites. The roads have been renamed with titles such as ‘King David Street’, while plaques (in English) on the walls recount Al Khalil’s past as ‘one of four holy cities in the land of Israel’. On the army barracks, a sign extols a Hebron of the tenth through to the nineteenth centu­ ries as ‘A Pious Community . . . of Torah, Charity and Kindness’. Elsewhere, a sign proclaims: ‘this land was stolen by Arabs following the murder of 67 Jews in Hebron in 1929. We demand justice, return our property to us!’ Indeed, references to the massacre and other ‘terrorist’ attacks dominate the Jewish account of the area – a narrative of past victimhood which vindicates Zionist claims to the city, while eliding the asymmetrical patterns of Israelion-Palestinian violence that characterise its present. At the ‘Hebron Heritage Museum’, housed in an urban settlement, the audience can listen to moving accounts from the curator about her grandfather’s brutal murder by Arabs in 1929, alongside a myriad other personal accounts of Jewish exile. The

160 | zoe holma n

Figure 8.1  A sign on a contested site in Hebron Old City. Photograph by the author, 2016

city has, of course, seen more recent acts of large-scale brutality, namely the 1994 ‘Goldstein massacre’ in which an American-Israeli settler entered the Ibrahimi mosque and murdered 29 Palestinians, injuring around 120 other worshippers. Yet such events are omitted from the museum’s narrative, or, when raised, are dubiously relayed by the curator as a defensive response to Palestinian terror plots. The narrative machinations at play in Hebron are significant here as they resonate with a broader discursive dynamic observable around nationhood in Israeli – that of growing reliance upon a Holocaust discourse, a discourse of historical victimhood. As the Israeli writer Idith Zertal (2005: 42) notes, the apocalyptic events of the twentieth century have provided Israel’s politicians, journalists and historians with ‘inexhaustible reservoirs of images, arguments, and assertions’ in which to couch state actions. So too, this arsenal has since the founding of the state of Israel increasingly been turned on the adversary within, the Palestinians. This is such that, as Zertal (2005: 193) describes it,

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  161 ‘in their world, where meaning is turned inside out, which projects on to others, the conquerors become the conquered, the persecutors are turned into the persecuted, wrongdoer into the victim, and this inverted order received the supreme seal of Auschwitz’. In any discussion of Israeli, and thereby Palestinian, history this trajectory is key. For it has not only informed the dominant (Israeli) accounts that have permeated Western understandings of Israel-Palestine at the cost of the indigenous Palestinian narrative, it also signifies the magnitude of the narrative force with which any (minority) Palestinian account of history must now contend. In observing the skill with which Israel has employed Holocaust discourse to legitimate military as well as cultural violence into the twenty-first century, Micaela Sahhar (2015: 13) notes: A corollary of this success has been that Palestinian accounts of their own history have been delegitimised and, where Palestinian history has ‘forced itself on Zionism’, it has been coded by the prevailing State ideol­ ogy, Zionism, as a ‘continuation of European anti-Semitism’, and even a ‘continuation of Hitlerism’. This has profoundly impacted, by way of distortion, Palestinian narrative, particularly insofar as it has been possible to communicate it more widely.

Similarly, in relation to the institutional and political implications of this in historical struggles to recognise heritage, Bshara (2009: 4) observes that ‘the Israeli narrative that builds on the Holocaust is institutionalized (by a special law) that acquires an agency, while Palestinian narrative is an agency without instrument (hegemonic structure)’. Indeed, Israel’s profound opposition to affirmations of Palestinian culture against its hegemonic narrative was wellevidenced in July 2017 when UNESCO took the step of ascribing Hebron’s Old Town, including the Cave of the Patriarchs, to the State of Palestine on the World Heritage danger list. Although the contested site was already on Israel’s list of national heritage sites, the UNESCO vote marked the first time a religious site revered by Jews (among other faiths) was accorded Palestinian status. Israel’s response was swift and unambiguous. While Israel’s UNESCO ambassador stormed out of the session, citing a problem with her toilet in Paris that was ‘much more important that your decision’, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disparaged the vote as ‘another delusional UNESCO

162 | zoe holma n decision’. It was quickly announced that Israel would cut some $1 billion in funding to the UN, with Netanyahu railing: Not a Jewish site?! Who is buried there? Our patriarchs and matriarchs! And the site is in danger? It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured. In the Middle East, mosques, churches and synagogues in every other place are being bombed – in places that are not Israel. We will continue to protect the Cave of the Patriarchs, freedom of religion for all and the truth.

This defensive line was expanded upon by, among others, Lieberman, who deemed UNESCO a ‘politically slanted organization, disgraceful and antiSemitic, whose decisions are scandalous’. As he explained, ‘no decision by this irrelevant organization will undermine our historic right over the Tomb of the Patriarchs, or our right over the country’, adding that he hoped the UN body would be defunded with the help of ‘our great friend the United States’. Within a week of the UNESCO decision, it was announced that Israel would channel the $1 billion from its UN budget into building a museum in Hebron. Collective Amnesia: Exhibiting Dispossession It is against such forces that the project of the Palestinian museum attempts to wrest back a narrative. For, as is readily apparent here, history in the con­ text of Israel-Palestine is deeply vested with ideology, geopolitics and power. These overarching dynamics have likewise produced formal micro-measures on the part of Israel to militate against any public admission of the Palestinian narrative – notably, the so-called ‘Nakba Law’ whose terms have been a source of contention since the bill passed through the Israeli Knesset in 2011. Technically, the law authorises the Finance Minister to reduce state funding to any institution that engages in ‘activity that is contrary to the principles of the state’, among which is ‘commemorating Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning’. The practical inten­ tion, as critiqued by Palestinians and democracy campaigners, is to penalise and thereby outlaw commemoration of the formative Palestinian catastrophe at the foundations of Israeli statehood. Such initiatives are a reminder of Israel’s ongoing effort to secure its pre-eminence through an endless process

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  163 of removing or managing the persistent Palestinian presence. (As Makdisi (2010b: 528) notes, this effort has also produced rhetorical devices that seek to ‘wish away’ Palestinians, such as the use of the generically deracinated term ‘Israeli Arabs’.) Similarly, the present-day vigorous denial of the Nakba narrative reflects the continued potency of Palestinian history as a weapon against Israel’s settler-colonial project. Regarding this legacy, Salamanca et al. (2017: 2) note that ‘viewed through the lens of settler colonialism, the Nakba in 1948 is not simply a precondition for the creation of Israel or the outcome of early Zionist ambitions; the Nakba is not a singular event but is manifested today in the continuing subjection of Palestinians by Israelis’. It is unsurprising then that commemoration of the Nakba was the cata­ lyst for the Palestinian museum. This was the case in 1997 when members of Welfare Association (‘Taawon’), an NGO run predominantly by Palestinian exiles, first conceived of the project. With the approaching fiftieth anniver­ sary of the Nakba uppermost in their minds, its founders decided to create an institution dedicated to documenting the event that had shaped Palestine’s modern history through the expulsion of more than 60 per cent of its Arab population (Stewart 2010). As the daughter of one of the Taawon chairs Jardaneh was privy to the evolution of the concept, and she describes the significance of its central Nakba precept as follows: The Nakba was a catastrophe in every sense of the word. Palestinians were expelled by a colonial project that was there to obliterate a whole popula­ tion. It was a war not only against the people, but against a culture, an identity, a lifestyle. Unfortunately, Israel won those wars because it had the money and power – it had the upper hand and it still does. Israelis have had the luxury of writing history and so also of making a mess of the story, which many scholars are now revisiting.

This impulse to render visible a Palestinian history with this seminal event at its forefront was carried through the project over its (approximately) two decades of development. Indeed, its official inauguration in May 2016 was scheduled to coincide with the date of Nakba commemorations. Yet many of those involved in the museum – particularly from the younger generation, including Jardaneh and Qattan – were drawn towards a more future-oriented conceptualisation of the museum, one which emphasised living Palestinian

164 | zoe holma n culture, rather than simply proffering a mausoleum of the past. The Nakba was therefore taken as a starting-point for a broader and longer examination of history. Though the museum would serve as a monument through which to remember a tragic juncture, it did not signify the beginning or – more importantly perhaps – the end of the Palestinian story. As Qattan, then Chair of the museum board, noted at the time of the museum’s 2016 inauguration: the Nakba is the single most important event in Palestine’s modern his­ tory and its profoundly destructive effects continue to haunt not only Palestinians, but also the rest of the region. No project focussed on modern history in Palestine can avoid to reflect on that date – not in the morbid, backward-looking sense, but rather to remind ourselves, the world and Israelis in particular that there is no just and peaceful future for the country until that injustice is properly and fully redressed.

Accordingly, this notion of redress, restitution and evolution is at the core of the present-day museum charter, alongside a commitment to preserving the memory of past atrocities. As its current mission statement describes it, the museum ‘is now planned as an institution that can celebrate Palestine’s cul­ ture more broadly. [It] aims do this through a series of innovative and crea­ tive programmes that will allow its audience to also reflect on the present in order to imagine a better future.’ So too, the shift away from a Nakba-centred enterprise was also, for some museum organisers, driven by a resistance to defining Palestinian culture and history purely through reference to Israel. Speaking prior to his decision to step down in 2015, the museum’s former director, Jack Persekian, described his desire for a narrative that transcended the relatively recent bounds of the so-called Israel–Palestine conflict. As he explained, ‘we want to allow people to move back and forth in time and not be tied down to a particular moment. We did not want to be pitched against the Israeli story or remain incarcerated in a dichotomy formulation.’ To position a Palestinian story purely in opposition to the project of Israeli statehood was also to risk slippage into a more polemic and more reductive narrative, reminiscent of those of national museums throughout the world. Instead, it was intended that the museum would defy many of the symbols and stereotypes that Israel’s occupation has engendered on the part of Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and internationally. As Persekian explained:

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  165 Whenever one is talking about Palestine, there are certain set modes of representation that have been adopted by the political establishment and disseminated as the official narratives. But the discussions we would like to have in the museum are about challenging a set of givens that we have lived with for many years now. It is about confronting taboos and sanctioned narratives, not merely acting as a national museum to vindicate what the authorities want.

It was this more subversive vision that inspired the museum’s original tagline, ‘a safe place for unsafe ideas’ (a descriptor which has, perhaps tellingly, since been dropped). Its current directors are still nonetheless explicit about their desire to eschew the role of a conventional national museum. Underlying this is doubtless also an awareness of how so many of the national liberation and resistance tropes which have informed Palestinian culture and history over the past century have been exploited, and/or exhausted, by politics. As Jardaneh (2017) explains, ‘we have thought a lot about our place as a national museum in a non-nation state, so we are trying to stay away from any kind of “National Museum”. We are not trying to promote any particular national story or to be authoritarian, to dictate a narrative. We are trying to ask questions and to explore, to celebrate history, but also to think of the future.’ Equally, the drive for independence surely cannot help but be informed by a cognisance of the ever more authoritarian and unpalatable style of politics now being enforced by the Palestinian Authority itself. (Indeed, as a commentator from the Palestinian think-tank Al-Shabaka recently told the media, ‘I am positive [that] if the PA had any intervention [the museum] wouldn’t be successful. The idea of such a museum goes beyond factionalism, it’s about echoing Palestinian voices and aspirations. There is a clear authoritarian tendency in the PA, which is an anti-democratic machine rather than a mechanism owned by the Palestinian people.’) Just as it seeks to be anti-national, the museum is also determinedly trans-national in its aims. The myriad dispersals, exiles and divisions that Palestinian communities have been subject to over the past century mean that visiting the museum itself is a physical impossibility for most. Even outside the diaspora, those still living in historic Palestine or neighbouring Jordan find themselves at the whim of rigorous (and mostly arbitrary) restrictions

166 | zoe holma n on freedom of movement imposed by Israeli authorities. In fact, such restric­ tions pose a major obstacle not only to prospective museum patrons, but also to its organisers, with visas frequently denied, travel bans imposed, and exhibits prohibited from entry by Israeli customs. While the project may have benefited from benevolent international solidarity to the tune of millions in financial support (some $24 for the building alone), the logistics, politics and physics of realising such a project under Israel’s hostile jurisdiction have proved the most vexing challenges. (As Qattan reflects, ‘ours was a unique experience. I don’t know many museums created under a military occupa­ tion.’) The riposte of the Welfare Association to these obstructions is the concept of a cultural ‘mother-ship’, a physical institution headquartered in Birzeit which links Palestine’s many satellite communities around the region and the globe. The elevation of the museum’s charter to an online sphere has thereby enabled the sharing of its programmes, the exchange of skills and resources and international dialogue through alternative means. Regarding this conceptualisation of the museum, Qattan explains that ‘one of the great miracles of culture is that it does not recognise political borders. The realisa­ tion that film, poetry, dance and so on are extremely powerful ambassadors for the Palestinians, plus the power of the internet, means that culture is often a way for Palestinians across the world to connect and communicate with each other.’ Accordingly, the museum is working to enable virtual tours of all its exhibitions, alongside the development of an original digital archive of some 145,000 documents of refugee heritage from historic Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon. Much of this will be catalogued alongside a historical timeline in an interactive forum entitled ‘Palestinian Journeys’. Simultaneously, partner­ ships with international organisations and institutions are bringing to light and preserving hitherto neglected archives – notably, that held by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which contains some half a million pieces of photography and audio. Having docu­ mented its operations in the region since the agency’s establishment in 1950, UNRWA’s collection offers up rare audio-visual accounts of seminal events, from 1967 through to Israel’s 1982 war on Lebanon, the Palestinian uprisings of 1987 and 2000 and the present day. As the UNRWA archive co-ordinator, Michelle Hamers, explains, ‘UNRWA is the custodian of this visual heritage.

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  167 The content shows the experiences and lives of Palestine refugees. No other entity, in the absence of a national archive, has documented this for 65 years.’ So too, the archive will be coupled with international touring exhibitions and an educational history tool-kit for schoolchildren developed by UNRWA – a course which will likely reflect a rejoinder to the partial narratives contained in state-sanctioned Israeli textbooks. Such initiatives also reflect a continu­ ation of the post-Oslo upsurge in efforts to revive and preserve facets of pre-Nakba Palestinian culture: what Doumani (2009) describes as a kind of ‘memory fever’, constituted by archives, oral histories, architectural restora­ tions, folk traditions and scholarly production which has aimed to make cohere a broken history and construct an alternative Palestinian imaginary, beyond the prevailing biblical rhetoric. In this vein, the expansion of digital access to the museum’s exhibits and archives, encompassing direct contributions from the diaspora, will doubtless afford new possibilities and dialogues towards the ‘democratiza­ tion of meaning-making’ around a Palestinian history, and future (Henning: 137). Shared across geographies, photographs, documents and oral histories here serve to establish and/or reify connections between a ‘lived’ past and the present – connections which have been disaggregated by the conditions of displacement and occupation. The museum’s charter reflects a broader shift in conceptions of the role of the modern museum – from that of the superintendent of a singular, authorised past to one of cultural mediator, incorporating and representing the memories of previously marginalised groups (Black 2011: 13) (although, as will be discussed below, the success with which the museum has unearthed original and/or subaltern narratives remains contested by some). This communal, educative function of museum institutions assumes a heightened significance in the context of Israeli efforts to realise a logic of elimination in the cultural realm. For the machinations of settler-colonialism have, over the past century, in many ways succeeded in coopting and corroding any cohesive sense of Palestinian history and identity. It is this process which the museum is working to reverse. As Jardaneh notes, ‘in this huge machine [of colonialism], cultural appropriation continues. It is a struggle to hold on to what is actually yours.’ While unifying the dispa­ rate communities and cultures of the diaspora, the museum must therefore also address ongoing processes of cultural negation among Palestinians more

168 | zoe holma n locally. This will entail pushing back against the institutionalised cultural and educational forces of an ‘ongoing Nakba’ through which, as Shehadeh and Shbaytah (2009) describe it, for decades, the Israeli authorities have played a carrot-and-stick game to transform Palestinians into a servile minority called ‘Arab-Israelis’, a minority with no connection to their Palestinian identity, with a collective amnesia of their relationship with the land around them and of the ongoing crimes committed against them and most importantly, loyal to their jailers.

An Already-existing Story: Place, Space and Symbolism On a hilltop at the edge of the breezy grounds of Birzeit University, the sleek, white exterior of the Palestinian Museum nestles into the landscape. The building does not impose itself on its environment, unlike the declaratory structures of so many national museums, nor does it rupture it. Rather, the museum’s contemporary architecture (the design of the Dublin-based archi­ tecture company Heneghan Peng) seeks to blend into its rural surrounds. Like the building structure which echoes the terraced terrain around Birzeit, the gardens rippling down the sloped 40,000m2 plot are also terraced and planted with trees, herbs and flora indigenous to Palestine. Where Israeli architecture in the West Bank has typically sought to dominate and frag­ ment the landscape through a ‘politics of verticality’ (Weizman 2002), its structures breaching local aesthetic traditions, the Palestinian museum’s fluid design aims to mirror its landscape. In observing the spatial practices of the Israel occupation, Eyal Weizman (2002) describes a ‘matrix of control’ which attempts to superimpose two distinct political geographies, one Israeli and one Palestinian, on the same physical landscape. Accordingly, settle­ ment areas of the West Bank are seamlessly linked to one another and to Israel, while Palestinian areas are by contrast disaggregated, broken splinters of territory. The design of the museum building and grounds are a clear riposte to this effort to fragment and disrupt a Palestinian relationship with the land. Against the forces of occupation which work to master the landscape, its integrated structure reinforces continuity with the land, and thereby, the continuity of an indigenous history and culture. Similarly, the harmonious relationship between the physical institution and its environ­

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  169 ment signifies a counter-balance to the ‘fractured, agonized appearance’, as Mitchell describes, produced by the past century’s struggle for control of terrain across Israel and the oPt. Accordingly, the physical dimension of the museum functions as a further effort to vindicate the Palestinian historical narrative in aesthetic terms. A loose comparison may perhaps be drawn here with Israel’s official Holocaust Memorial ‘Yad Vashem’, whose extensive and engaging museum halls conclude in a spectacular, carefully contrived pano­ ramic view of the city of Jerusalem. Landscape and its related architectural interventions thus become an extension of historical narrative, an affirmation thereof. The physical aspects of the museum assume additional significance in a heritage field where Palestinian architecture beyond the iconic religious sites has been characteristically neglected. While renowned sacred places, such as the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Holy Sepulchre and Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity were incorporated in the Palestinian narrative through international recognition, thousands of historic and archaeological sites with other social or communal significance were disregarded (by the Palestinian authorities as well as international NGOs). As Bshara (2009: 3) notes, ‘collective narrative was influenced by these important religious places but not the very personal, individual, home’. The museum’s re/construction of an architectural and physical landscape which is fluid, localised and popular in character may therefore be seen as a further effort to ‘[make] Palestinians proud of what Palestine once looked like; a part of a process to reconcile with a broken his­ tory and the construction of visual narrative’. As the former General Director, Mahmoud Hawari, pointed out in relation to the architectural design awards granted to the Palestinian Museum, such international recognition elevates the institution’s work to a global level, ‘not only in terms of architecture and building, but also in terms of conveying the Palestinian narrative and promoting Palestine’s cultural status’. This effort at reclamation, symbolic, physical and historiographic, is like­ wise the defining theme of the museum’s activities. The very establishment of an institution for the autonomous preservation of Palestine’s heritage serves as a refutation of a long-standing colonial characterisation of Palestinians as incapable of and/or uninterested in conserving culture (just as they have been characterised as incapable of caring for the land). As Jardaneh (2017) explains, ‘you only have to look at Israeli museums and archives to consider

170 | zoe holma n how Palestinian heritage has been exploited. Israel has loads of documents from Palestinians, but the way they have portrayed it is that “Palestinians cannot look after their own heritage, so we are looking after it for them”. They have made a lot of noise to justify their actions, to show the public that Palestinians are not worthy of their heritage.’ As Israel has over the past cen­ tury succeeded to a large extent in controlling the historical narrative of the territory, it has also assumed direct control of swathes of the land’s cultural assets. Israel’s notorious appropriation of staples of Arab cuisine – notably, hummus, falafel and, more recently, za’atar – has extended to other realms of culture, including handicrafts and textiles, which Jardaneh notes she has seen repurposed by contemporary Israeli fashion designers as traditional ‘Jewish’ embroidery. Similarly, the many galleries and antique stores of Jaffa’s Old Town are now furnished with Palestinian designs and objets d’art, exhibited in isolation from any trace of a Palestinian antecedence. As Qattan explains: Much of the material looted in 1948 is deposited in some of [Israel’s] museums; the beautiful Mediterranean cities of Jaffa and Akka, jewels of Ottoman and Italianate architecture, are now Israeli artists’ colonies, wealthy secondary residencies or hideously refashioned tourist attractions with little reference to their Arab histories or inhabitants (and often ludi­ crously reinvented ‘Jewish’ ones). This is not to mention the onslaught on the Old City of Jerusalem.

The process of Judaising key facets of Palestinian culture has been appositely deemed ‘felafalisation’ by Bshara (2013: 302), who, beyond the physical occupation, observes the claiming of indigenous heritage and the incorporat­ ing of it into the new colonial regime. As he explains, ‘Palestinians, therefore, are born/thrown into a world that already has its own meanings, written by the colonialist. They have not only lost their falafel, or “humus” (khumus in Hebrew), but also, they are not allowed to talk about it nor question the history that made the “humus” into khumus.’ In the purview of this contest and the attendant efforts at estranging Palestinians from key (physical or intangible) sites of heritage, the Old City of Jerusalem is perhaps most emblematic. It is unsurprising, then, that it also defines the theme of the museum’s inaugural exhibition, ‘Jerusalem Lives’. Within just weeks of a historic confrontation over Israeli security restrictions

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  171 at the Al Aqsa compound or ‘Dome of the Rock’ in East Jerusalem, the Museum opened the show to a considerable media fanfare in August 2017. The multi-disciplinary exhibition aimed to document the living aspect of the city, ‘in light of what Jerusalem continues to face from exclusionary policies enforced by militarisation and closure’. As was further described in the museum’s promotional materials, ‘veering away from clichés, the exhibi­ tion exposes the neoliberal, colonial and imperial challenges imposed by the Israeli occupation that Jerusalem and its people are facing’. Divided into four areas, it examined the phenomena of globalisation in Jerusalem from the perspectives of economy, politics, ideology and culture, with a focus on ‘demonstrating the work of civic institutions that have adopted a long-term approach of perseverance and resistance’. The exhibits range from the official – infographics of formal NGO data documenting settlements and housing demolitions in East Jerusalem – to the political, the cultural and the iconic. Tweets from US President Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu stood alongside renderings of video footage from Israel’s military surveillance system that targets Palestinians in the Old City. An installation entitled ‘Present Tense’ depicts the dwindling maps of Palestine following the Oslo agreement engraved on a series of soap-bars – a soluble, manufactured prescription for the conflict. Thirty years after cartoonist Naji al-Ali’s assassination, his infa­ mous ‘Handala’ character is displayed with a series of his Jerusalem-related drawings from the 1980s. Other exhibits document the ‘unabashed’ policy of the Judaisation of Jerusalem – a theme of heightened significance in the light of Trump’s concur­ rent murmurings about relocating the US embassy to the city. In a video by an Israeli settler organisation, ultra-Zionists discuss the Arab and Palestinian demographic threat to the city and how it must be curtailed. Documentation of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan likewise maps the ‘colonial expansion’ of plans to evict Palestinian homes to build a Holy Basin surround­ ing the Old City. Such a policy is far from a matter of political perception. In 1973, the Israeli government determined that Jerusalem’s population should be maintained at proportions of 70 per cent Jewish and 30 per cent Arab – a target which defies current demographic growth rates that forecast a Palestinian popular ratio of 40 per cent by 2020 (Hasson 2017). Accordingly, a series of political and infrastructural measures have been taken to counter this trend –

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Figure 8.2  The Palestinian Museum. Photograph by the author, 2016

Figure 8.3  A museum display of photographs of the ‘Dome of the Rock’ by Palestinian contributors. Photograph by the author, 2016

notably, the so-called ‘Greater Jerusalem Bill’ which was introduced into the Israeli parliament in 2017. Tabled during the 50th anniversary year of the 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem, the bill proposes the annexation of Israeli settle­ ment blocs around the city into the Jerusalem municipality as well as the dis­

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  173 placement of approximately 140,000 (one third) of the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem outside the so-called ‘Separation Barrier’. At the same time, his­ tory is being vigorously employed around the city to substantiate such a policy. Organisations such as Emek Shaveh have made rigorous efforts to illuminate how archaeological sites across Israel and the oPt – especially in the Jerusalem municipality – have been placed at the forefront of the political struggle, most frequently as a tool for dispossessing already disenfranchised communities. In particular, they have observed the mercenary use of archaeological excavations, or excavations referred to as ‘archaeological’, in the political struggle over the Temple Mount or ‘Haram al-Sharif’ complex which houses the Dome of the Rock. As they note, in a climate characterised by greater nationalism and reli­ gious intensification, ‘the Old City is undergoing unprecedented development of a nature which prioritizes Jewish belonging and the Jewish people’s historic rights to Jerusalem. These processes in the city solidify an Israeli vision that ancient Jerusalem should remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.’ Among these, for example, are attempts to prevent the burial of Muslims in parts of the Old City through application of the so-called ‘National Parks Law’. Such mechanisms echo the broader attempts made by Israel to refashion an exclusive Zionist narrative of historical Palestine. As Nadia Abu El-Haj (2001: 146) notes of Israel’s instrumentalisation of heritage, the key (historical) texts and the key (archaeological) evidence remain in a circular relationship of discovery, explanation, and proof . . . the history produced through this work of archaeology relies on an already-existing story, which is used, in turn, to interpret the evidence found. Once so interpreted, the empirical evidence comes full circle to stand as independent proof of the story itself.

It is such efforts that ‘Jerusalem Lives’ therefore seeks to counter – in both documentary and symbolic terms – through its own story. Reinforcing a narrative of connection and custodianship during the incendiary conflict over the site, the exhibition concludes with a gallery of photographs and selfies that Palestinians were invited to submit, depicting themselves standing in front of the Haram al Sharif compound. Symbolism likewise abounds in the sculptures and installations that furnish the museum’s gardens. The grounds

174 | zoe holma n include commissioned and refabricated site-specific artworks by eighteen Palestinian and international artists, including sculptures, sound installations and landscaping. Among these are the imposing orange limbs of a bulldozer, giant steel sculptural renderings of the figures ‘67 per cent’ and ‘48 per cent’, and a five-metre-high, domed architectural structure, shrouded in hessian packaging and entitled ‘Key of Return’. Another work features reproductions of neolithic masks discovered around the West Bank, the oldest found in the area. Now held in private collections, the pieces were exhibited in Jerusalem in 2014 in a special display by the Israel Museum. As the artists (who hacked the museum website to recover the designs) describe it, ‘the museum instru­ mentalised them by linking them to the nationalistic narrative of the ancient and contemporary “Land of Israel”’. Such artistic interventions, coupled with the museum’s exhibits and digital archive, reflect the defining events and themes that bind Palestinian collective memory. Where the significance of Palestine’s religious sites has hitherto been endorsed through recognition as World Heritage, valorising the universal at the expense of a more local imaginary,1 the museum’s exhibits give primacy to a distinctly Palestinian articulation of history. Yet at the same time, the museum project has been criticised for not transcending or further interrogating what may be considered the stock emblems of Palestinian cul­ tural identity. Some attendees at the exhibition opening in 2017 questioned the intended audience for the museum, suggesting that quasi-hackneyed tropes of dispossession, occupation and resistance (1948/1967, the right of return, Oslo, housing demolitions, etc.) did little to engage with or enliven Palestinian experiences in any great complexity. Similarly, in discussion with attendees, critiques were also levelled at the purportedly elite sphere of cultural production reflected in the museum’s design and commissions, a predominantly international stratum of established designers, artists and curators which did not reflect the diversity of contemporary Palestinian culture/s. Though manifestly political, the arguably anodyne nature of some of the museum content (insofar as it echoes established narratives and tropes) perhaps reflects a greater degree of caution in its current charter – a retreat from the realm of ‘unsafe ideas’ to more consensual themes. Indeed, the museum’s activities to date may appear to tread a benign path across a terrain fraught with ideological, artistic and professional differences. Such differ­

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  175 ences have over the course of the development given rise to myriad rifts and upheavals, with the museum’s seemingly countless changes in directors and senior organisers. It was such disputes which in the months leading up to the 2016 opening saw the suspension of the long-planned inaugural show ‘Never Part’, which highlighted artefacts from Palestinian refugees’ experi­ ence. Following a disagreement between the museum’s board and its former director, Persekian, the latter resigned, and the museum halls were left empty at its heavily publicised opening – an all-too-precarious symbolism that was widely noted. Discussing Persekian’s resignation, Qattan conceded that con­ flicting artistic and curatorial visions for the museum had led to various errors being made in planning and management: Many people in the field come from contemporary visual art, which is very often blighted by a certain way of doing things which I believe is far too restricted, abstract, filled with jargon, falsely academic. It is quite predominant over culture generally now for commercial and economic reasons . . . that’s the way art in the post-modern era is depoliticized, very narcissistic. What we want to do is much more holistic, more multidisciplinary . . . We really want to be a research reference. Not in the academic sense but in the sense of people looking for cultural material. But I think also that we don’t have the capacity or the professional experience in the country. (Littman 2016)

It is possible to read elitism, narcissism and de-politicisation into many con­ temporary art projects, including some of those at the Palestinian Museum, as criticisms from its Palestinian audience underscore. It is also possible that in attempting to veer away from the material and ideological features of a didactic national museum, the Palestinian project may appear to some to have strayed too far into the realm of the aesthetic and the contrived, of the ‘gallery’. Yet equally, it cannot be disputed that the Museum is also making rigorous efforts towards the research, archival and educational functions emphasised by Qattan (as reflected in its current travelling exhibitions as well as the factual and documentary exhibits of ‘Jerusalem Lives’). Divergences in perspectives on charter and practices are perhaps inevi­ table, the context of any museum or cultural initiative, not least one with such weighty political implications. Jardaneh herself is well aware of the ­multiplicity of outlook among those driving the museum project, as well as

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Figure 8.4  An installation for ‘Jerusalem Lives’ on the museum terrace. Photograph by the author, 2016

among its audience. Yet she describes this trait as an asset, a source of dyna­ mism for the project. As she explains, ‘everybody is so passionate – everybody feels ownership and sees things differently. And I hope that we can stay true to this. I am confident.’

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  177 It is too early in the life of the Palestinian Museum to pass judgement on whether the institution has realised any of the various visions of its founders or more contemporary directors, or to speculate on whether its aims will be realisable in the current political environment – under the Palestinian Authority or regionally and internationally. Beyond ideological or profes­ sional differences, however, the empty exhibition halls that defined the Museum’s opening perhaps assume a broader symbolism: that is, the dif­ ficulty of forging any new or coherent – any definitive – postcolonial account of a Palestinian past, peoplehood or identity from a history that has been so variously contested, abused and erased. When given a prominent platform to assert new narratives, the typical dynamism driving efforts at anticipatory representation seems to have faltered. Yet initial hesitance or blundering does not necessarily nullify the value of the museum enterprise or imply that such projects are ersatz, mere trappings of the nation-state in the absence of real sovereignty that serve to endorse the status quo (De Cesari 2012). Conclusion The Israeli sociologist Nachman Ben Yehuda wrote in 1996 that ‘the main intellectual, cultural and political debate in Israel is not so much about the country’s future or present but rather about the interpretation and social construction of what is considered to be its past and the impact of particular constructions on its present and future’ (1996: 7). Similarly, the Museum project has provided a forum that draws out debates around constructions of a Palestinian past and visions of the future. Yet the distinction here is that such constructions in Israel have also formatively shaped Palestine’s own history, and will continue to influence its future – erasing, appropriating, refashioning and, often literally, burying Palestinian narratives and heritage. As a manifestation of this trajectory, Makdisi (2010b) points to the construc­ tion, in 2012, of Israel’s Museum of Tolerance – over the top of one of the largest and most important Muslim cemeteries in all of Palestine, which had reportedly been in use for centuries, from the Crusades through until 1948. Such an event, he observes, is ‘one of the most remarkable – and surely also one of the most profoundly indicative – episodes in the entire conflict between Israel and the Palestinians’. He goes on:

178 | zoe holma n Palestinians and Muslims were asking how, in all seriousness, a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ claiming to represent ‘mutual respect’ and ‘human dignity’ could be built on top of a dispossessed people’s graveyard – and how such a thing could happen a mere stone’s throw from militarily occupied and contested territory, close to by far the most impressive material manifesta­ tion of the Israeli occupation of Palestine: the oppressive concrete slabs of the separation wall that Israel has built on, in, and around the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The flagrant violation of heritage contrived in this spatial juxtaposition is emblematic of the ideological and material forces which the Palestinian nar­ rative must continue to assert itself against – be it in the project of a museum or by other means. And however fraught or contested the attempts to cohere or articulate Palestinian history, identity and culture, this ongoing dispos­ session surely cannot help but constitute a primary driving force. As Qattan explains of the cultural legacy of the 1948 disenfranchisement, ‘one must never underestimate the profound and decimating effect that had on a people – its memory, its customs, its oral history, its music and dance, its artisanal skill base. These are more vital than museum pieces and their destruction may quite fairly be termed as cultural genocide.’ The term ‘genocide’ when applied in the Israel–Palestine context may doubtless have an incendiary impact. Yet, the question of genocide is, as Wolfe (2006: 387) notes, never far from discussions of settler-colonialism. This is because, as he claims, ‘land is life – or, at least, land is necessary for life. Thus, contests for land can be – indeed, often are – contests for life.’ And if land is also culture, as is overwhelmingly apparent in the case of Palestine, then Palestinians’ struggle to retain their land has been and must continue to be a contest for culture, whatever form it may take, and thereby also a contest for life. Note 1. As Bshara (2013: 306–7) argues, ‘By universalising the local, the Palestinians use a tool available for them to protect the remains of their heritage, to locate Palestine into a different historical Atlas, and to use the process of making the local universal to rewrite the local history anew – a discursive production of knowledge . . . Paradoxically, the attempt to claim the local heritage by making

t h e palesti ni an museum, bi r z e it    |  179 the universal detour opens new terrains on which battles to be fought [sic]. By adopting a national, supranational, and universal approaches [sic] towards built cultural heritage and landscape, the Palestinian lieux de mémoire acquires new meanings in the landscape of resistance. While one expects a postcolonial regime to acknowledge its local traditions and practices for their sake and for their locality, the PNA followed the sweeping attitudes of making the local heritage universal.’

Bibliography Abu El-Haj, N. (2001), Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-fashioning in Israeli Society, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Abu Shehadeh, Sami, and Fadi Shbaytah (2009), ‘Jaffa: From Eminence to Ethnic Cleansing’, The Electronic Intifada, 26 February 2009. Ben-Yehuda, Nachman (1995), The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Bieman, Ursala (2014), ‘A Post-Territorial Museum: Interview with Beshara Doumani’, A Prior, 22, 163–70. Bshara, Khaldun (2009), ‘The Palestinian Spaces of Memory’s Role in the Reconstruction of New Collective Narrative in the Nation Building Process’, (last accessed 26 June 2018). Bshara, Khaldun (2013), ‘Heritage in Palestine: Colonial Legacy in Postcolonial Discourse’, Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress, 9, 2: 295–319. De Cesari, Chiara (2012), ‘Anticipatory Representation: Building the Palestinian Nation(-State) through Artistic Performance’, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 12: 82–100. De Cesari, Chiara (2017), ‘Heritage between Resistance and Government in Palestine’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 49: 747–51. Deleuze, G., and Guattari, F. (1987), A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press. Doumani, Beshara (2009), ‘Archiving Palestine and the Palestinians: The Patrimony of Ihsan Nimr’, Jerusalem Quarterly, 36, 3–12. Hage, Ghassan and Gaita, Raimond (2010), ‘On Narcissistic Victimhood’, in Raimond Gaita (ed), Gaza: Morality Law and Politics, Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing, pp. 101–26.

180 | zoe holma n Hasson, N. (2017), ‘Tens of Thousands of Palestinians Living in East Jerusalem Unaccounted for in Data’, Haaretz, 17 May. Henning, Michelle (2006), Museums, Media and Cultural Theory, Maidenhead: Open University Press. Jardaneh, Zina (2017), Interview with the Author, 9 March. Littman, S. (2016), ‘Even Empty, the New Palestinian Museum Is Making History’, Haaretz, 26 May. Makdisi, Saree (2010a), Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, New York: Norton. Makdisi, Saree (2010b), ‘The Architecture of Erasure’, Critical Inquiry, 36: 519–59. Massad, Joseph (2006), The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians, London: Routledge. Misztal, Barbara (2003), Theories of Social Remembering, Maidenhead: Open University Press. Pappe, Ilan (2007), The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oxford; Oneworld Publications. Sahhar, Micaela (2015), ‘Occupied Narrative: On Western Media Collusion with Israel’s “Wars” and Recovering the Palestinian Story’, PhD thesis, University of Melbourne. Said, E. (2000), The Edward Said Reader, London: Penguin/Random House. Salamanca, O., M. Qato, K. Rabie and S. Samour (eds) (2012), ‘Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine’, Settler Colonial Studies, 2, 1: 1–8. Stewart, C. (2010), ‘A Massacre of Arabs Masked by a State of National Amnesia’, The Independent, 10 May. Weizman, Eyal (2002), ‘The Politics of Verticality’, OpenDemocracy, 24 August. Wolfe, Patrick (2006), ‘Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native’, Journal of Genocide Research, 8: 387–409. Zertal, Idith (2005), Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




gypt’s Coptic Museum occupies part of the former site of a Roman fortress, in a quarter known as mi‚r al-qadima (literally ‘Old Egypt’), also called ‘Old Cairo’ or ‘Coptic Cairo’ as its settlement pre-dates the Arab Conquest (639 ce) and the foundation of al-Qahira (Cairo) in the late tenth century. Old Cairo contains also a large concentration of historic churches. It is believed that the Holy Family stayed in this area during their flight from Jerusalem to Egypt. Historically, it also housed the seat of the Coptic Patriarchate for a couple of centuries. The museum’s timeline began when the idea of its establishment was raised, in the late nineteenth century, leading to its creation (1908–10) as the Coptic Patriarchal Museum. From the begin­ ning, the Coptic Museum has drawn national and international attention to the role of the Coptic population in Egypt’s national history. This chapter argues that the Coptic Museum was not founded as a ‘minority’ museum but rather as an archaeological museum holding religious Coptic art. Its foundation aimed at demonstrating that Coptic material cul­ ture had equivalent value in Egyptian history to Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman and Islamic (Arab) arts, which in the late nineteenth and early twentieth 181

182 | di na i sha k ba k h o um centuries already had their own museums. Unlike other museums, however, the Coptic Museum was established under the aegis of the Patriarch, giving it an unconventional status within Egyptian heritage owing to the religious nature of its initial collection. This essay traces the most significant episodes of the museum’s history, including its foundation, nationalisation and trans­ formation into a public domain museum (1931) as well as its expansion (1947). A Brief Overview of the Copts The term ‘Copt’ (Qibt) is an abbreviation of the Greek word Aigyptios (Egyptian), which derives from Hikuptah (House of Energy of Ptah), the religious name for the ancient capital of Memphis (Cannuyer 2001: 11; Rūfaīla 1898: 2–4). When the Arabs came to Egypt, in 639, they referred to it as ‘house of the Egyptian’ (dār al-Qibt). Historically, the word ‘Coptic’ indicated ‘Egyptian’, but nowadays the term is used to refer more specifically to Christian Orthodox Egyptians. The Coptic calendar begins in 284 ce, the year the Roman Emperor Diocletian took power. This date marks the start of a period referred to as the ‘Era of the Martyrs’, when hundreds of Egyptian Christians suffered persecution. Egyptian farmers still abide by the Coptic calendar when sowing and harvesting their crops, and religious feasts and fasts are likewise determined in accordance with it. The Copts’ religious leader is known as the ‘Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa on the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria’. Coptic Egyptians were an active religious community throughout the Roman and Byzantine periods (first to seventh centuries ce) and remained so under Islamic rule. At the time of the Arab Conquest, Egyptians spoke Coptic, a language philologically related to ancient Egyptian, written using Greek alphabet and seven additional demotic characters. Over the course of several centuries, Arabic replaced the old language in official documents and daily life, but Coptic was still used in religious liturgy and remains so today. Although there is no official census, Egypt’s Christians are currently believed to constitute around 10 per cent of the predominantly Muslim population. Van der Vliet (2009: 281) summarises the situation of the Copts in today’s Egypt as follows:

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  183 In Egypt itself, the Copts are very visibly present. Churches and monasteries are a conspicuous element of the Egyptian land and cityscape, and clerical dress is normally worn in the streets. No Coptic ghettoes exist and, in spite of following some habits of their own, for example in the choice of names for their children, Copts fully share the way of life of their Muslim neigh­ bours, apart from religion. They are a quantitative (statistical) minority, not a qualitative, in that they would make up a distinct kind of Egyptians, once more, apart from religion. This is not to say that their position is unprob­ lematic. In Egypt, religion counts, and tensions within society are naturally reflected on the religious level.

While the Copts are technically a quantitative minority, referring to them as a minority is not widely accepted in today’s Egypt among the Coptic and Muslim populations, for several reasons. First, the Copts of Egypt consider themselves ‘true’, that is native Egyptians who, according to tradition, con­ verted to Christianity after the Evangelist St Mark came to Alexandria (first century ce) to preach to them the new religion. As such, they believe that they have played a leading role in the country’s national development. Second, both Muslims and Copts object to the term ‘minority’, arguing that it implies inequality, prejudice and reduced status and encourages the polarisation of Egyptian society. Third, although Copts may, at times, be subject to acts of bias and discrimination, constitutionally all Egyptians are equal before the law. Their legal and political situation, however, was different prior to the nineteenth century, when reforms and processes of modernisation began to be introduced. As a religious minority in a Muslim-ruled country, through­ out history Copts have had to demonstrate their loyalty to the State. This was especially critical during the Crusades when Egyptian Christians shared the same religion as the European invaders. If Egypt’s Ayyubid rulers suspected Copts of sympathising with the enemy, they were at the very least dismissed from the positions they widely held in Egypt’s bureaucracy. Alexandria’s Coptic cathedral was destroyed for fear the Crusaders might co-opt it for use as a fortress (Cannuyer 2001: 70–1). The need to show fealty to the Arab State, as opposed to the Christian West, persisted throughout the Mamluk and Ottoman periods and the British occupation (1882), and, some would argue, continues today.

184 | di na i sha k ba k h o um Copts did not always enjoy the same legal treatment as their fellow (Muslim) citizens with regard to issues like tax payment, their enrolment in military and public schools, the government positions they were permitted to hold, and in other respects. It was only in 1855 that active measures began to be taken to ensure religious equality, when Said Pasha abolished the jizya tax formerly imposed on Jews and Christians in return for protection. Shortly afterwards, Copts were deemed eligible for the Egyptian army but were not yet admitted to public schools. During the late nineteenth century, when the British (Christians) occu­ pied Egypt, they were accused of trying to win the support of local Christians in order to ‘divide and conquer’. Copts, however, were active participants in the 1919 revolution against British occupation and subsequently helped write the Constitution of 1923 that called for religious equality (El-Masri 1984: 73–83). This period was a turning-point for Copts seeking equal rights as citizens. With regard to Church matters, and in light of the country’s modernisa­ tion efforts, Patriarch Kyrillus (Cyril) IV (r. 1854–61), known as the ‘Father of Reform’, saw the Coptic community’s need for education opportunities and, accordingly, opened the Great Coptic School (al-madrasa al-aqbāt alkubra). Initially established at the Patriarchate (with a later branch at Hārit al-Saqayin – a district in Cairo), the school aimed at reviving the Coptic language but also taught different languages and technical subjects. It was open to students of other faiths, alongside Copts, but was predominantly frequented by Copts (Seikaly 1970: 249). The nineteenth century was a period of awakening for the Church, with laymen playing a significant role in advancing its reforms. In the 1870s, they lobbied to limit the clerical management of church endowments and other worldly matters and an independent (lay) council was established to that effect by Khedival decree (February 1874). Known as the Coptic Community Council (al-majlis al-milli,) its job was to ‘assist in administrating civil affairs of the community’ (Seikaly 1970: 251). While acting as ‘mediator between the Church and the state’, the Council nonetheless ‘occasionally [entered] into competition with the church over decision-making authority’ (Afifi 1999: 279).

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  185 Patrimonial Awakening The nineteenth century held additional significance as it witnessed the rediscovery of Egypt’s past. Napoleon’s expedition (1798–1801) and the subsequent publication of the Description de l’Égypte (1809–22) whetted the world’s appetite for all things Egyptian. Travellers, scholars and collectors were anxious to explore the ancient ruins and the discipline of archaeology was born. Excavations multiplied at sites throughout the country, and in the 1860s the Egyptian Antiquities Museum was created to house the copious finds. While the Pharaonic era claimed the greatest interest, Egypt’s Islamic and Coptic past began to attract attention. Many Coptic archaeological sites had been neglected or destroyed by crude excavations, and in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century calls for their protection came from scholars, architects, archaeologists, linguists and others. Among those who contributed to the understanding, excavation, publication and protection of Coptic heritage were Émile Amélineau (French), Alfred Butler (English), Walter Ewing Crum (Scottish), Joseph Strygowski (Polish-Austrian), Albert Gayet (French), James Edward Quibell (English) and Jean Clédat (French), as well as Gaston Maspero (French), Somers Clarke (English), Evelyn White (English), Max Herz (Hungarian), Ugo Monneret de Villard (Italian) and Marcus Simaika, an Egyptian central to this chapter. Around 1889, Maspero, then director of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, dedicated a hall in the newly established Egyptian Museum in Bulaq for archaeological finds from Christian sites (Gayet 1889–90: 1). While these sites fell within the Antiquities Service’s mandate, the same was not true of historic churches and monasteries still in operation, many of them poorly preserved yet artistically and architecturally significant and endowed with valuable objects and manuscripts. Operational, yet also deteriorating Islamic monuments, however, fell under the protection of the Comité de conservation des monument de l’art arabe,1 a body established in 1881 under the Ministry of Islamic Endowments (Awqāf). The Comité’s mandate included drawing up an inventory of Islamic monuments, restoring them, and managing the Museum of Arab (later Islamic) Art, established in the late nineteenth century. Coptic monuments

186 | di na i sha k ba k h o um were added to the Comité’s mandate fifteen years later, thanks to the efforts of some of the above-mentioned foreigners and both Muslim and Christian Egyptian scholars (BC 13, 1896: 33–5;2 Reid 1995: 319–20). A suggestion to change the Comité’s name to Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe et copte, however, was voted down (BC 15, 1898: 38–9). Several points regarding the context for protecting Coptic heritage and the founding of the Coptic Museum must be noted, focusing on Coptic versus Islamic monuments. All of the Comité’s preservation-related actions had to be negotiated with the Coptic Patriarch and approved by him. The Church, not the State, was the official body controlling religious heritage, a situation that shifted in the twentieth century, as we will see. Second, while the Comité’s work with Islamic religious monuments was financed by the Ministry of Islamic Endowments and the State, restorations of Christian monuments needed to be granted funds from a separate secular governmental source, and the Patriarchate was also responsible for paying a portion. Third, more concern was shown in protecting Coptic material culture by foreigners and the Coptic elite (such as Marcus Simaika, Boutros Ghali and others) than by the clergy or the wider Coptic community. Educated Copts were writing books about their past while looking towards the future and the promise of modernity. One such book was The History of the Coptic Nation (Tārīkh al-Umma al-Qibtiyya, 1898) by Ya‘qūb Nakhla Rūfaīla. A Coptic scholar who spoke Arabic, Coptic, English and Italian (Sedra 2007: 197), Rūfaīla expressed the hope that the value of Christian antiquities and manuscripts would be recognised, referring the issue to the Patriarch in the hope that he might bless the effort to collect and preserve them (Rūfaīla 1898: 376–7). While not directly suggesting the creation of a Coptic Museum, Rūfaīla showed an interest in heritage protection shared by other Copts, even though he acknowledged that the project for a museum could only be accomplished in co-operation with the Church. The establishment of the Coptic Museum has been discussed by numer­ ous scholars (Abdelmalik 2007: 26–9; Auber de Lapierre 2017; Bakhoum 2017; Dawud 2007: 5–8; Gabra 1993; Gabra and Eaton-Krauss 2007: 15–21; Kamil 1987; Ormos 2009: 334–46; Reid 1995; Reid 2002: 275–8; Reid 2015: 202–6; Simaika 2011: 91–124). Building on this work, this chap­ ter highlights the museum’s special status at the time of its creation and the

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  187 changes it experienced, especially perhaps at the most critical moment in its history, its nationalisation in 1931. Given the establishment of Egypt’s various museums as separate entities – namely, the Egyptian Museum (Pharaonic); the Arab, later renamed the Islamic, Museum; the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria; and the Coptic Museum in Cairo – all initiated by foreign scholars and art connoisseurs – some scholars have argued that this reflects their founders’ failure to understand the ‘complex social and cultural amal­ gam’ of Egypt (Preziosi 2008: 132). Yet it may be argued that the creation of the Coptic Museum as a separate entity reflected the prevailing reality, at a time when religious leaders, as opposed to lay members of the community or the State, were responsible for Coptic material culture. And although it was the initiative of foreign and Egyptian art connoisseurs through the work of the Comité that led to the foundation of the Coptic Museum, this would not have been possible without the Patriarch’s approval. The individuals who were instrumental in the founding of the Coptic Museum include Max Herz. Herz proposed the idea of a museum at an 1898 Comité meeting, ending with a note saying: ‘Arab art has its museum; Coptic art now awaits one of its own’ (BC 15 1898: 4–6).3 In 1894, Husayn Fakhri Pasha, the Comité’s director, had suggested that Coptic monuments be added to the Comité’s mandate and he followed up on matters related to negotiating the museum with the Patriarch. Hanna Bakhoum and Nakhla al-Barati, Coptic laymen and members of the Comité at the time, persuaded the Patriarch to donate rooms and lands in Old Cairo, beside the Virgin Mary Church (the Hanging Church), to house and collect Coptic art (BC 16, 1899: 39). Another important figure for the foundation of the Coptic Museum was Marcus Simaika (1864–1944). Born into a prominent Coptic family, Simaika relates in his memoirs how he became interested in Coptic art and architecture thanks to Alfred Butler, who wrote The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt in 1884 (Simaika Reminiscences: 98).4 Simaika is regarded as the most influential figure associated with the museum’s foundation (despite disagreement as to whether he was the sole founder) and further develop­ ment. He became a member of the Comité in 1906 (BC 23, 1906: 9) and certainly played a major role in the negotiations that took place between the Comité and the Patriarch. According to Simaika, one of the main obstacles to

188 | di na i sha k ba k h o um convincing the Patriarch to grant permission for the museum was that many of the pieces to be displayed were consecrated ecclesiastical objects that were traditionally burned or melted when they were no longer used lest they fell into profane hands (Simaika 2011: 91–5; Simaika and Henein 2017, 133; Simaika Reminiscences: 110). The establishment of the Coptic Patriarchal Museum as an extension of the Virgin Mary Church (between 1908 and 1910) eased such concerns and ensured clergy control of its contents. Simaika started to assemble a collection of artefacts and books from historic monasteries and churches collected throughout Egypt and the Sudan, in addi­ tion to pieces donated by wealthy Copts. He also incorporated in the museum architectural and decorative elements, which he had salvaged from older houses of Coptic families and from the old Patriarchate located in the Hārit al-Rum district, which was no longer in use (Auber de Lapierre 2017: 253–61; Simaika 2011: 95–7). Simaika secured funding for the museum through a subscription list with donations from Coptic community members and other Egyptian and foreign connoisseurs (BC 32, 1915–19: 215–16; Simaika 2011: 92, 95). Donors and international guests began to visit, and were favourably impressed. The former US President Theodore Roosevelt’s visit in 1910 is an indication of the museum founders’ reach in their efforts to promote the museum and in its importance for the local and international community. In response to the Patriarch’s request, the State agreed to contribute money to the museum in 1913. The annual sum they provided (200 EGP) came with the condition that the museum be placed under the control of a special board, with members approved by both the State and the Patriarch, to provide the museum with administrative and budgetary guidance. The Patriarch became board president; State-appointed members included Maspero, Ronald Storrs, then Oriental Secretary of the British Agency, and Max Herz, the Comité’s chief architect. The Patriarch also appointed three members: Simaika, who at the time was also a member of the Egyptian Legislative Council (part of the Egyptian parliament); Amin Ghali, the Public Persecutor of the Mixed Courts; and the priest Yuhanna Chenouda of the Virgin Mary Church (BC 30, 1913: 62–3). Despite earlier donations made by the State, there was hope that the museum would attract greater financial involvement from it. On the occa­ sion of a museum visit by Sultan (later king) Fuad, on 21 December 1920,

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  189

Figure 9.1  Interior of one of the rooms in the old wing of the Coptic Museum. Coptic notables – women and men – contributed to its construction, furniture and decoration. Photograph by Matjaž Kačičnik, © 2018

190 | di na i sha k ba k h o um

Figure 9.2  Exterior view of the old wing of the Coptic Museum. Photograph by Matjaž Kačičnik, © 2018

Simaika delivered a speech about its history, taking great care to recognise the State’s generosity. He also presented a graph showing how annual operating expenses greatly exceeded 200 EGP and were covered by the donations of Coptic and other notables, who provided additional funds for renovations and expansions (Simaika 1920: 6–7). Simaika concluded his presentation by thanking Fuad and expressing the hope that his visit would mark a new era for the museum’s expansion and improvement (Simaika 1920: 7). Fuad proved more responsive than Simaika perhaps expected. After his visit, he donated personally to the museum and encouraged members of his court to do the same. He also stated his wish that the museum enjoy the full benefits of State control. As Reid notes, Fuad’s interest in the museum was partly an image-building exercise, in keeping with his desire ‘to pre­ sent himself as a renaissance prince – an enlightened patron of international congresses, historical publications, and cultural institutions generally’ (Reid 2015: 207–8). Simaika was facing a great dilemma. On the one hand, if nationalised, the Coptic Museum would signify an official legitimisation of the significance of

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  191 Coptic culture in shaping Egypt’s history. At a time when Egyptian national­ ism was on the rise against colonial rule, the notion of unity and a shared her­ itage transcending religious beliefs held particular resonance. Nationalisation also meant that financial responsibility for the museum would fall to the State. On the other hand, the Church could lose control and ownership over its properties, a situation the Patriarch would not support (Simaika Reminiscences: 115–16). In 1923, Piola Caselli, who held the title of ‘royal counsellor’ to the Egyptian Council of Ministers and the Ministry of the Interior, visited the Coptic Museum. Simaika took the opportunity to ques­ tion him about the State’s intentions, whether it would protect the museum without jeopardising the Coptic community’s rights or the Patriarch’s responsibility vis-à-vis the religious nature of some artefacts. Caselli offered reassurance in a letter to Simaika dated 17 December 1923, explaining his personal opinion on this issue, which he agreed was delicate and complex. He called Simaika’s attention to two points concerning laws issued in 1912 and 1918 for the protection of material heritage in Egypt. According to Law 8 (1918), any objects of artistic, historical or archaeological value dating from the Arab conquest (639) to the death of Mehmed Ali (1849) were considered to be part of the public domain and had to be protected by the State. Caselli noted that according to this law, churches, monasteries and convents, some of which dated from the early Christian period, formed part of this protected heritage. Accordingly, the Virgin Mary Church to which the museum was annexed fell under this law and was already under the surveillance of the Comité. His second point was that, according to Law 14 (1912), Egyptian antiquities included all objects of art, science, literature, religion, customs and industries, hence not only those belonging to the Pharaonic, Greek, Roman or Byzantine Egypt, but also those belonging to Coptic Egypt. According to Caselli, the release of an official decree recognising the Coptic Museum and its current and future content as part of the public domain was perfectly legal and possible. Such a decree would not jeopardise the Patriarch’s property rights, or the rights of the Coptic churches and endowments, which had loaned the museum collections. The coexistence of the rights of the State and the rights of individuals to the same objects, Caselli argued, was covered by Law number 8. Caselli cited the protection of cemeteries belonging to members of Egypt’s foreign resident communities and colonies as an example

192 | di na i sha k ba k h o um of how Coptic community properties would likewise be protected. Caselli was more reserved regarding the question of management, espe­ cially how to reconcile the religious character of the museum with the State’s responsibilities towards that museum when in the public domain. State administration of the museum’s finances was but a partial solution, since the premises and the collections required separate consideration. Regarding the premises, Caselli felt that the Patriarchate should allow maintenance, modifications and improvements to be handled by a public administrative body. The Comité would be the most suitable body as it was already in charge of the Church of the Virgin Mary. Caselli believed it would be dif­ ficult, however, if the Church would not allow the same body to deal with the museum’s collections because of the limitations imposed by their reli­ gious nature. Whoever was responsible for this task would require authority to control, inspect and classify museum objects either directly or through representatives appointed by the Patriarchate. Caselli concluded that, for the museum to be properly protected, one of the relevant and competent ministries should take the necessary actions along the lines he had described, and, once the nationalisation had been firmly decided, that the matter should be forwarded to the Litigation of the State to formulate the requisite decree (Simaika Reminiscences: 119–22). In January 1924, Simaika wrote to Said Pasha Zulfiqar, Egypt’s Grand Chamberlain, attaching Caselli’s letter to his own (Simaika Reminiscences: 115). He explained the religious nature of the Coptic Museum’s collection and how he had consulted with members of the museum’s board and with Mr Caselli for advice on how to deal with the prospect of nationalisation. Simaika proposed that a decree be issued, (1) guaranteeing the Coptic church’s ownership of the museum and its contents, (2) ensuring that Coptic notables would continue in their management capacity, (3) stating that the Ministry of Finance should supervise finances and (4) stating that the museum be accorded the status of a national monument. In closing, he assured Said Pasha Zulfiqar that the Patriarch would accept these terms, which also cor­ responded with the benevolent desire of King Fuad (Simaika and Henein 2017: 144; Simaika Reminiscences: 116–18). Simaika’s memoirs do not mention follow-up discussions until March 1930, when King Albert I of Belgium visited the Coptic Museum with

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  193 King Fuad and the nationalisation issue was once again raised afterwards (Simaika’s Reminiscences: 122). In May 1930, during a parliamentary meet­ ing, a Coptic member of parliament remarked that the Coptic Museum was an Egyptian museum like any other and should therefore be state-controlled. He was assured that negotiations to that end were under way (El-Masrī 1984: 141–2). Meanwhile, Simaika had apparently persuaded Patriarch Yohannes XIX (r. 1928–42), the successor of Cyril V, of the advantages of nationalisation provided it came with the ‘careful protection of church waqfs (endowments) and other rights’ (Simaika and Henein 2017: 145). At last, on 29 January 1931, the decree nationalising the Coptic Museum was issued, and it was published in the official gazette a few days later, on 2 February 1931. Simaika would later include a copy in the Arabic version of his museum guidebook (Simaika 1932: 288–91).5 Reactions to the decree differed depending on the interest group. International scholars of Coptic art were pleased with the decision, including Alfred Butler, who wrote a letter to the editor of the Times (28 February 1931):6 Sir, your announcement that the Coptic Museum at Old Cairo has been taken over as a State institution by the Egyptian Government is of the greatest interest to all students of Coptic art and history. When more than 50 years ago I first began the study of the Christian antiquities of Egypt, the subject was almost unknown, and a book of mine, published in 1884, may have done something to awaken an interest now become world-wide. It cer­ tainly had an immediate welcome from a band of young and well-educated Copts; but no one among them responded with greater intelligence and enthusiasm than Marcus Simaika, who ultimately became the founder and director of the Coptic Museum. And on whom the rank of Pasha has been most deservedly conferred.

Butler writes in closing: And now that the Coptic Museum stands at the same footing as the Arab Museum and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, while Coptic art and history are recognised, in kinship with Ancient Egyptian and Muslim art, as subjects of the highest importance that are studied throughout the civilised world, surely Simaika Pasha may feel that his life’s work has been crowned

194 | di na i sha k ba k h o um with a priceless reward. I am sure, too, that there are hundreds of students in this country who will join with me in offering him our hearty thanks and hearty congratulations.

While having Coptic art and history ‘recognised in kinship with Ancient Egyptian and Muslim art’ should have pleased the wider Coptic community, and possibly had, the title of the decree and its first clause, stating that the Coptic Museum would be annexed to the public domain properties of the State, angered some members of the Coptic Community Council (Al-Lataif al-Musawara 13 July 1931: 5; Simaika Reminiscences: 123). Some Copts understood the benefits of nationalisation, and that, by decree, the rights of the Church regarding museum content would not be violated and that the Patriarch would serve as honorary president. But other Copts objected to what they perceived to be loss of valuable property by the Church (and by extension, the community). Further research on the negotiations surround­ ing the nationalisation is needed to understand the extent to which the wider Coptic community, the Community Council, the council of the museum and the Patriarch were involved in the decision. Likewise, while the decree could not have been issued without the Patriarch’s approval, details of how he arrived at his terms are currently lacking. A Façade Built in Preparation for the Museum’s Nationalisation? A study of the composition of both the façade and the current entrance built in 1929 suggests that Simaika designed and built the façade in preparation for the museum’s nationalisation, during the period when the negotiation process was taking place. Details of its composition include inscriptions, and architectural and other decorative elements that make cultural reference to all parties sharing an interest in the museum, including Patriarch Yohannes XIX, King Fuad, the Coptic clergy, the Coptic community, foreign art con­ noisseurs and archaeologists, and the Muslim majority. Simaika was sending multiple messages to the different interest groups, who might have been in favour of or against the nationalisation. Despite the differences in opinion, Simaika’s wish was to convey a message of unity to the interest groups whose support he hoped the museum would win (Bakhoum 2017). The museum’s façade follows Fatimid architectural style, recalling the al-

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  195 Aqmar Mosque (1125), which he adorned with Coptic ornaments. Simaika did not comment on the choice of a Fatimid frame in his memoirs. The only reference appears in Louis Hautecoeur and Gaston Wiet’s Les Mosquée du Caire (1932), which states that, according to Simaika, the façade of al-Aqmar Mosque itself replicated elements of earlier Coptic monuments, and that this in turn inspired his vision for the museum’s façade (Hautecœur and Wiet 1932: 248; Ormos 2009: 346). While additional information regarding what appears to be an act of architectural diplomacy is so far lacking from Simaika’s memoirs and other related documents, scholars have offered opinions regarding this design choice. The Fatimid frame may have been intended to evoke the Fatimids’ traditional tolerance towards the Copts (Reid 2015: 418). At a time of grow­ ing nationalism, Simaika may also have wished to remind museum visitors of the strong and continuous link between Coptic and Islamic art (Boutros 1992: 87). In addition, he might have been re-appropriating motives that he felt were Coptic.

Figure 9.3  The 1929 façade of the Coptic Museum recalling the façade of the Fatimid Mosque of al-Aqmar (1125). When constructed it was not the entrance to the museum as it is today, but it was a façade of a room displaying icons. Photograph by Matjaž Kačičnik, © 2018

196 | di na i sha k ba k h o um

Figure 9.4  The façade of the Fatimid Mosque of al-Aqmar (1125). The right-hand side of the façade is a late twentieth-century reconstruction. Photograph by Matjaž Kačičnik, © 2017

Perhaps the elements that refer most explicitly to the nationalisation of the museum are Arabic inscriptions flanking the door on the right and left sides of the symmetrical façade. They read: This hall was constructed in 1929 ad during the reign of his Majesty King Fuad the First, glory to his victory [on the right side], and the [reign of] Pope Anba Yu’anis (Yohanness) the Nineteenth and the Hegumen [arch­ bishop] Yuhanna Shenouda and the concerned Marqus Simaika Pasha the founder of the Coptic Museum [on the left side].

The position of the name of the Patriarch and the name of the King on the façade at the same level signalled both their equal importance to the museum and their shared role in ensuring its future (Bakhoum 2017: 109). State support for the museum, in the decades following its nationalisa­ tion, is attested on panels later added to the façade. A panel on the right bears three versions of the same date (20 February 1947) in accordance with the Gregorian, Coptic and Hijri (Muslim) calendars. It commemorates in Arabic

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  197

Figure 9.5  The bust of Marcus Simaika Pasha placed at the entrance to the Coptic Museum in 1947. Photograph by Matjaž Kačičnik, © 2018

198 | di na i sha k ba k h o um

Figure 9.6  Interior of one of the rooms in the new wing of the Coptic Museum. Objects of a religious and archaeological nature are displayed. Photograph by Matjaž Kačičnik, © 2018

how the King, Farouk I, sent the Minister of Public Instruction (Dr Abd al-Razik Ahmed al-Sanhuri) on his behalf to open a new museum wing and to unveil a bust of its founder, Marcus Simaika Pasha, which still stands at the museum’s entrance. Although Simaika died in 1944 and did not live to see it, the state-financed expansion came as a direct result of the nationalisation he had helped engineer. The text of another panel, written in Arabic, Coptic and English, reads as follows: In Commemoration of Marcus Simaika Pasha, 1864–1944, the lifelong and devoted preserver and promoter of Coptic culture and creator of this museum. This tablet has been erected by the Government of His Majesty King Farouk I.

The new wing contains objects excavated from archaeological sites, some of them formerly housed in the crowded Egyptian Museum. It was Simaika who suggested the Coptic items be transferred to make room in the Egyptian Museum for artefacts from Tut Ankh Amun’s tomb, following its 1922

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  199 discovery. Simaika also wished to gather the Coptic pieces spread around different museums under a single roof (Simaika Reminiscences: 125–6). The museum’s old wing contains the collection he assembled from churches and monasteries, and its design comprises traditional Egyptian decorative ele­ ments, such as the carved wooden ceilings and intricate wooden window screens (mashrabiyya) donated by Coptic laymen. Thanks to Simaika’s bust and the panels of the façade,7 as well as to panels inside the museum dedicated to Copts who had donated to the museum, it is evident to visitors that the museum was founded through strong Coptic involvement and is supported by the State. Nevertheless, as in other Egyptian museums, its history is not recounted on the premises as part of the display, nor is an explanation provided for the meaning of ‘Coptic’, or the cultural identity to which it corresponds. Today, the museum’s vestibule contains a sign reading ‘The Coptic Museum’ in Arabic and in English. The Friends of the Coptic Museum have expressed the wish that it be written in Coptic as well.8 Although few would be able to read it, it would symbolically demon­ strate the continuous long-lived history, culture and language of the Copts in particular, and of the Egyptians in general. Concluding Remarks The comprehensive story of Egypt’s Copts has yet to be told in a museum context. Those who wish to know more regarding the traditions of the Copts, their leading role in Egypt’s economy and their contributions to science, culture, politics and society must consult scholarly publications.9 The Coptic Museum, as Simaika noted, ‘filled a gap in the chronology of the Egyptian history and culture’ (Simaika 2011: 107). In fact, its presentation of archaeological artefacts helped to integrate two centuries of Christian past into the country’s national narrative. The museum offered proof that Copts not only contributed to Egyptian society but were also embedded in its very fabric. This validation of historicity superseded claims to a minority status. While nationalisation and the incumbent acknowl­ edgement of the ‘Egyptianness’ of Coptic culture may have been a source of gratification for the wider Christian community, it nonetheless created ownership-related tensions. Questions as to whether Copts feel confident in the possession and protection of their heritage today, or whether the

200 | di na i sha k ba k h o um Muslim community views Coptic culture as integral to Egyptian heritage, remain to be answered. Notes 1. Hereafter it will be referred to as Comité. 2. The bulletins of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe, vols 1–41 (Cairo, 1883–1961) were published almost annually by the Comité and included summaries of their meetings (Procès-verbaux des séances) and technical reports (Rapports de la deuxième Commission, later Rapports de la Section technique). The bulletins are currently available online in image mode on Islamic Art Network. Fully searchable texts of the entire collection were released on the portal Persée in 2016, thanks to a partnership with InVisu (INHA/CNRS) and IFAO. The bulletins of the Comité will be shortened to BC followed by the volume number, the period the bulletin covered and the page number(s). In the bibliography, the title of the meeting or report is listed along with the publication date, which sometimes differed from the date the bulletin covered. 3. Original in French: ‘L’art arabe a son musée; l’art copte de son côté attend le sien’. Translation by Ormos, I., Max Herz Pasha 1859–1919: His Life and Career, Études urbaines 6/1, 6/2 (Cairo 2009), 2–335. 4. Simaika wrote his memoirs at the end of his life, providing many interesting details about his work for the Comité and the Coptic Museum, among many other topics. Simaika’s family possess the ‘Excerpts from the Memoirs’; these were first consulted by Donald Malcolm Reid, followed by István Ormos, when research­ ing matters regarding the Coptic Museum and Coptic archaeology. Simaika’s grandson, Samir Simaika, published a portion of the memoirs in 2011, along with photographs and correspondence from his grandfather’s archive, most of which has been digitally preserved by the Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the American University in Cairo and is accessible to researchers. In 2017, Samir Simaika and Nevine Henein produced a biography of Marcus Simaika (Marcus Simaika: Father of Coptic Archaeology) based on Simaika’s archive and a 182page copy of the memoirs recently discovered by family members and entitled ‘Reminiscences of Marcus H. Simaika Pasha, CBE, FSA (1864–1944), Founder and Director of the Coptic Museum’ (unpublished manuscript). I am grateful to the authors for granting me access to the ‘Reminiscences’ for the purposes of this chapter. The document will be referred to here as ‘(Simaika, Reminiscences)’ without a date being given. We know that Simaika wrote his memoirs before he died, in 1944, but we do not know the exact date.

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  201 5. Simaika authored A Brief Guide to the Coptic Museum and the Ancient Coptic Churches Monasteries, an Arabic-language book published in two volumes (1930, 1932). French and English versions (1937 and 1938 respectively) were also produced. Simaika’s catalogue of the museum’s Coptic and Arabic manuscripts appeared in 1939. 6. Article found in Simaika’s archive. 7. Two later panels, in Arabic (on the right) and English and French (on the left), commemorate President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak’s visit and re-inauguration of the museum (25 June 2006) following a three-year restoration and redesign that included a bridge linking the new and old wings. The redesign project was funded and managed by the Ministry of Culture. See (last accessed 15 March 2018). In tandem with the renovations, the restoration of a collection of museum paintings was con­ ducted by the American Research Center in Egypt. See Jones, M., ‘Conservation of Mural Paintings in the Coptic Museum’ in Gabra, G. and H. Takla (eds), Christianity and Monasticism in Northern Egypt: Beni Suef, Giza, Cairo, and the Nile Delta (Cairo and New York 2017), 297–311. 8. Based on information from Father Maximus, interviewed on 8 March 2018. 9. See e.g. Leeder, S. H., Modern Sons of the Pharaohs: A Study of the Manners and Customs of the Copts of Egypt (London 1918); Atiya, A., The Copts and Christian Civilization (Utah 1979); Ibrahim et al., The Copts of Egypt (London 1996); Al-Gawhary, K., ‘Copts in the “Egyptian Fabric”’, Middle East Report No. 200, Minorities in the Middle East: Power and the Politics of Difference (July–September 1996), 21–2; Meinardus, O. F. A., Christians in Egypt: Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Communities, Past and Present (Cairo 2006); Gabra, G. (ed.), Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt (Cairo and New York 2014).

Bibliography Abdelmalik (2007), ‘Marcus Simaika Pasha, 1864–1944, Mu’asis al-mathaf al-qibti’, Rhakoti, Spotlights on Coptic Studies, 4–1: 26–9. Afifi, M. (1999), ‘The State and the Church in Nineteenth-Century Egypt’, in Die Welt des Islams. State, Law and Society in Nineteenth-Century Egypt 39, 3, Leiden: Brill, pp. 273–88. Atiya, Aziz (1979), The Copts and Christian Civilization, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

202 | di na i sha k ba k h o um Auber de Lapierre, Julien (2017), ‘Le Musée copte du Caire, une utopie architec­ turale’, in M. Volait (ed.), Les Annales Islamologique, 50: 235–66. Bakhoum, Dina Ishak (2017), ‘Recreating the Façade of a Fatimid Mosque at the Coptic Patriarchal Museum: A Step Towards its Nationalization?’, in K. Bowes and W.  Tronzo (eds), The Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 62: 99–118. Bulletin of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe 13, 1896, ‘Procèsverbal n° 69’ (Cairo 1897), pp. 33–5. Bulletin of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe, 15, 1898, ­‘Procès-verbal n° 82’ (Cairo 1900), pp. 4–6, 38–9. Bulletin of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe, 16, 1899, ­‘Procès-verbal n° 90’ (Cairo 1899), p. 39. Bulletin of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe, 23, 1906, ‘Procèsverbal n° 142’ (Cairo 1907), p. 9. Bulletin of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe, 30, 1913, ­‘Procès-verbal n° 206’ (Cairo 1915), pp. 62–3. Bulletin of the Comité de conservation des monuments de l’art arabe, 32, 1915–19, ‘LXVII. Musée copte dans Qasr ach-Cham’ (Cairo 1922), pp. 215–16. Butler, Alfred (1884), The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cannuyer, Christian (2001), Coptic Egypt: The Christians of the Nile, London: Thames & Hudson. Clarke, Somers (1912), Christian Antiquities in the Nile Valley. Contribution towards the Study of Ancient Churches, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dawud, G. (2007), ‘Al-matªaf al-qibtiyy: al-nashʾa wa-l-tarikh’, Rhakoti, Spotlights on Coptic Studies, 4, 1, January, pp. 6–8. Gabra, Gawdat (1993), Cairo: The Coptic Museum and Old Churches, Dokki: Egyptian International Publishing Company–Longman. Gabra, Gawdat, and Marianne Eaton-Krauss (2007), The Illustrated Guide to the Coptic Museum and Churches of Old Cairo, Cairo and New York: The American University in Cairo Press. Gabra, Gawdat (2014), Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt, Cairo and New York: The American University in Cairo Press. Al-Gawhary, Karim (1996), ‘Copts in the “Egyptian Fabric”’, Middle East Report, 200: 21–2. Gayet, A. J. M. P. et al. (1889–90), Mémoires publiés par les membres de la mission archéologique française au Caire, Paris: Ernest Leroux, 3–4.

eg ypt’s copti c museum    |  203 Hautecœur, Louis, and Gaston Wiet (1932), Les mosquées du Caire, Paris: Ernest Leroux. Ibrahim, S. et al. (1996), The Copts of Egypt, London: Minority Rights Group International. Jones, M. (2017) ‘Conservation of Mural Paintings in the Coptic Museum’, in Gawdat Gabra and Hany Takla (eds), Christianity and Monasticism in Northern Egypt: Beni Suef, Giza, Cairo, and the Nile Delta, Cairo and New York: The American University in Cairo Press, pp. 297–311. Kamil, J (1987), ‘The Coptic Museum in Old Cairo’, Archaeology, 40: 39–45. Leeder, S. H. (1918), Modern Sons of the Pharaohs: A Study of the Manners and Customs of the Copts of Egypt, London: Hodder & Stoughton. El-Masrī, I. H. (1984), Qi‚at al-kanisa al-Qib†iyya, vol. 5, Cairo. Meinardus, Otto (2006), Christians in Egypt: Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Communities, Past and Present, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. Ormos, István (2009), Max Herz Pasha 1859–1919: His Life and Career, 2 vols, Études urbaines, 6/1, 6/2, Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale. Preziosi, Donald (2005), ‘The Museum of What You Shall Have Been’, in N. Al-Sayyad, I. A. Bierman and Nasser Rabbat (eds), Making Cairo Medieval, Lanham: Lexington Books, pp. 125–40. Reid, Donald Malcolm (1995), ‘Archaeology, Social Reform, and Modern Identity Among the Copts (1854–1952)’, in A. Rousillion (ed.), Entre réforme sociale et mouvement national, identité et modernisation en Égypte (1882–1962), Egypt: CDEJ, pp. 311–35. Reid, Donald Malcolm (2002), Whose Pharaohs? Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War I, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Reid, Donald Malcolm (2015), Contesting Antiquity in Egypt: Archaeologies, Museums, and the Struggle for Identities from World War I to Nasser, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. Rūfaīla, Y. N. (2000), Tarīḫ al-Umma al-Qib†iyya, 1st edn (Cairo 1898) and 2nd edn (Cairo 2000), with introduction by G. Gabra. Sedra, Paul (2007), ‘Schooling for a Modern Coptic Subjectivity in NineteenthCentury Egypt’, in Nabil Boudraa and Joseph Krause (eds), North African Mosaic: A Cultural Reappraisal of Ethnic and Religious Minorities, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 196–231. Seikaly, S. (1970), ‘Coptic Communal Reform: 1860–1914’, Middle Eastern Studies,

204 | di na i sha k ba k h o um 6: 247–75. Simaika, Marcus (1920), ‘Note historique sur le Musée Copte au Vieux Caire à l’Occasion de la Visite de Sa Hautesse Fouad Ier, Sultan d’Égypte’, Cairo: Ma†baʿat al-Maʿārif. Simaika, Marcus (1929), ‘Le Musée Copte au Vieux Caire’, L’Art vivant en Égypte 5, 98: 62. Simaika, Marcus (1938), A Brief Guide to the Coptic Museum and to the Principal Ancient Coptic Churches of Cairo, Cairo: Government Press of Egypt. Simaika, Marcus, ‘Reminiscences of Marcus H. Simaika Pasha, C.B.E., F.S.A. (1864–1944), Founder and Director of the Coptic Museum’. Unpublished manuscript. Simaika, S. M. (2011), Markus Pasha Simaika. Founder of the Coptic Museum. His Life and Times, Giza: Farid Atiya Press. Simaika, S. M., and N. Henein (2017), Marcus Simaika: Father of Coptic Archaeology, Cairo and New York: The American University in Cairo Press. Van der Vliet, Jacques (2009), ‘The Copts: “Modern Sons of the Pharaohs”?’, Church History and Religious Culture. Religious Origins of Nations? The Christian Communities of the Middle East, 89(1–3): 279–90.



n less than seven decades, the Jewish population of Morocco went from 240,000 Jews in the late 1940s to fewer than 4,000 in 2019. While the Moroccan Jewish diaspora in Europe and the Americas is numbered in thou­ sands, the majority of Moroccan Jews living abroad today live in Israel, where they form one of the largest Jewish communities there. As the Jewish population continues to experience a drastic slump, the Moroccan govern­ ment is faced with the challenge of the future existence of its main minority whose historical roots are believed to date back to the destruction of the First Temple in 587 bce (Boum 2013). In this context, different Jewish worlds are shaped in Morocco in real and virtual spaces (Boum 2014). In the late 1990s, the Dafina website became a virtual forum for social interaction between different Moroccan Jewish diasporas in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. By the turn of the twenty-first century, new websites were established and marketed for Moroccan Jews from different urban and rural communities. These sites served as new Moroccan spaces where diasporic communities could reconnect and maintain their historical and social rela­ tions.1 Aware of the potential of the virtual world to awaken and maintain the Moroccan Jewish diaspora’s connections with its homeland, the Council of the Jewish Communities of Morocco established an official website 205

206 | aomar bo um (, using it as a bridge between the different diasporic Moroccan communities.2 An affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, the Council of the Jewish Communities of Morocco is an organisational body serving the different urban and rural communities of Morocco that goes back to the Protectorate period. Headed by Serge Berdugo, it includes a separate regional community council directed today by local leaders such as Jacky Kadoch (Marrakesh– Essaouira), Armand Guigui (Fez–Oujda–Sefrou), Serge Berdugo (Casablanca and Tangiers), David Toledano (Rabat), Albert Devico (Meknes) and Simon Lévy (Agadir). At the same time, the Moroccan diaspora in Europe, the United States, Canada and Latin America is also represented through the Council of the Moroccan Community Living Abroad (CCME). Moroccan Jewish leadership has shifted its focus, from curbing the inevitable emigration of its remaining numerically insignificant younger generation to the cultural preservation of synagogues, shrines and cemeteries (Boum 2017). The objec­ tive is to maintain the community’s attachment to its homeland through the preservation of its cultural history, in the hope that the seasonal return of the diaspora will continue (Kosansky 2002). In her work on the adoption of Jewish heritage in Europe largely by non-Jews, Gruber defines this phenomenon as a reinvented ‘virtually Jewish’ world characterised by three approaches: (1) the restoration of synagogues, cemeteries and Shtetls; (2) the representation of Jewish culture in museums and tourism; and (3) the new valorisation of Yiddish music (2002). As in Poland, these aspects of the Jewish revival are also commonplace private and public practices in Morocco. Yet, unlike Europe’s stance regarding postHolocaust Jewish culture, state sponsorship and promotion of Jewish culture and its official celebration were led and managed primarily by the Council of the Jewish Communities of Morocco (CJCM) whose leadership continues to play a central role in the inauguration of Jewish museums, restoration of synagogues, cemeteries and mellahs (Jewish neighbourhoods), and the organi­ sation of Jewish cultural festivals. In this chapter, I focus my attention on the political and cultural significance of the conservation of the nineteenthcentury Simon Attia Synagogue in the coastal city of Essaouira and its trans­ formation into a museum of memory (bayt al-dhakira) and research centre for the study of Judaism and Islam (Fig. 10.1). I argue that bayt al-dhakira

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  207

Figure 10.1  Bayt Dakira Essaouira. Photograph by the author, 2019

(house of memory) is part of an institutional approach aimed at bringing Jewish history, culture and music to the broader Moroccan public. Built in 1892 as a private synagogue attached to the ‘Alouj neighbour­ hood by the British Consulate, the restored two-storey building was estab­ lished in memory of Simon Attia, a native Souiri Jew (Fig. 10.2). Attia, a merchant, disappeared during one of his trips before it was confirmed that he had died in Liberia in 1892. He was later buried in the Bevis Marks Nuevo Cemetery in London. His wife, Mima Attia, decided to build the syna­ gogue in his honour and memory. She travelled to London, where she hired M. L. Koffman, a renowned artist from Manchester, who designed and made the Ark of walnut wood. While the number of synagogues in Essaouira was already large in the late 1800s, Simon Attia Synagogue was inaugurated in Mogador (Essaouira) on 15 September 1899. The synagogue was a replica of an English synagogue. Over the last five years the synagogue was fully restored and it opened its doors to tourists in December 2018. The building covers an area of 500 square metres. As they open the outside wooden gate, visitors are led into a vestibule where a hanging golden plaque reads ‘Salam/Shalom’. On the

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Figure 10.2  Synagogue Simon Attia. Photograph by the author, 2019

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  209 right-hand side, a bench is placed outside a door of the prayer-room, in which original oil lamps hung from the ceiling. At the far end of the room, the origi­ nal Victorian Ark (Heikhal) brought from Manchester faces a big portrait of King Mohammed VI, hanging on the left-hand side of the vestibule, just before the stairs leading to the first floor. On a table, copies of the Qur’an and the Torah are displayed at the entrance to the large courtyard. The walls are filled with large pictures of key male and female native personalities of Essaouira, including Haim Zafrani, Stella Corcos, Lord Leslie Hore-Belisha, Edmond Amran El Maleh and others. Equally importantly, I claim that the building of new Jewish museums across Morocco is central to what I call the branding of a Moroccan ‘con­ vivencia’ (coexistence). Over the last few decades, festivals of inter-faith dia­ logue, which revolve largely around Andalusian and Gharnati festivals, have indirectly invoked the medieval frame of tolerance and inter-faith dialogues that have been taking place in the Arab world. Jews and Muslims coexisted in Medieval Muslim Spain and before they found final refuge in Moroccan cities such as Tetouan, Fez, Sale and Rabat. The anti-Semitism of the Inquisition and the Holocaust period forced Jews of Europe to migrate and seek refuge, some of them in Morocco and the larger North Africa (Zafrani 1996). I argue that the branding of convivencia as a Moroccan cultural and interfaith commodity comes after many years of its performance in urban spaces within and outside Morocco (Boum 2010, 2012). By restoring Simon Attia and renovating it as a functioning synagogue, a Jewish museum, an institute for the study of Islam and Judaism and a research centre for the study of Moroccan Jewish law, the plan is to re-create a Jewish life, not only through festivals but also through research into an urban Moroccan environment which Jews left in 1970s. I also contend that the focus on Islam and Judaism is an attempt to move the discussion from festivals of Gnawa and Andalusian music to academic and civil discourse about conflict resolution, tolerance and human rights, especially during the last few years, as Morocco is defined as a site of moderate Islam. Jewish Emigration, Museums and Festivals In 1997, Simon Lévy, Jacques Toledano, Boris Toledano and Serge Berdugo established a ‘Museum’ in an unnoticeable building and discreet

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Figure 10.3  Jewish Museum of Casablanca. Photograph by the author, 2019

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  211 ­ eighbourhood in Casablanca (Boum 2010, 2013) (Fig. 10.3). It emerged n as the first Jewish museum to house cultural and historical artefacts of Moroccan Judaism. Simon Lévy, the founding director of the Jewish Museum of Casablanca and Secretary General of the Foundation of JudaeoMoroccan Cultural Heritage, was largely credited with being the trailblazer of this cultural initiative (Trevisan Semi et al. 2013; Wagenhofer 2013). With the increasing emigration of Moroccan Jews, Lévy had realised that the survival of Moroccan Judaism was contingent upon the conservation of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries. Therefore, in the early 1990s, he launched a number of projects to restore synagogues in Fez and the Atlas Mountains. Under his leadership, the Moroccan Foundation of Jewish Cultural Heritage engaged in the restoration of synagogues such as: the seventeenth-century Ibn Danan Synagogue (Fez); Rabbi Baruch Toledano (Meknes); Rabbi Isaac Ben Walid (Tetouan); Synagogue Errachidia; Synagogue Ighil N’Ogho; Nahon Synagigue; Synagogue Khmis Arazan; Synagogue Oufrane; and, recently, Slat El Fassiyine (Fez). While the majority of these restorations were completed before Simon Lévy passed away in 2011, other restoration projects involving synagogues, such as Ettedgui Synagogue (Casablanca), were central to the Government’s mission of Jewish cultural revitalisation. Equally importantly, in collaboration with Zhor Rehihil, who serves today as the Museum’s curator, Lévy embarked on a tour to collect Jewish artefacts throughout Morocco, most of which are part of the permanent exhibit of the Jewish Museum of Casablanca. The collection included amulets for personal protection (khamsa), mezuzah for household protection, Hanukkah lamps, Torah pointers, prayer shawl bags, Torah finials, hanging synagogue lamps, hanging Hanukah lamps, Esther scrolls, Ketubah, Torahs, bridal dresses, groom vests, Torah mantles, and many other artefacts. While the conservation of synagogues began in the late 1990s with Simon Lévy, it has accelerated in the twenty-first century, making Jewish heritage one of the most visible features of Moroccan tourism. In this context, the Jewish community of Morocco, in partnership with Mehdi Qotbi, President of the National Foundation of Museums in Morocco, recently unveiled an initiative to build three Jewish museums in Tangiers, Marrakesh and Fez. These museums are meant to highlight the history and Jewish cultural diver­ sity of the different Moroccan regions.

212 | aomar bo um While the opening of the Jewish Museum of Casablanca in 1997 repre­ sents a moment of cultural awareness regarding the future challenges facing Moroccan Jewish heritage (Boum 2013; Wagenhofer 2013), the recent trend of Jewish revival through restoration projects involving mellahs, synagogues and cemeteries, and the growing Jewish festivals throughout Morocco, high­ lights the official Moroccan ‘branding of convivencia’. In fact, by publicis­ ing its religious tolerance towards the Jewish community the Government engages in a conscious way in a process of differentiation from other nations in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the rest of the world, especially at a time where racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise. This movement is largely part of a global discourse led by UNESCO, in which significant Moroccan figures such as André Azoulay have played a key role. This Moroccan discourse of convivencia is also connected to other European institutions such as the Geneva-based Swiss Foundation Hommes de Parole, which was founded in 2001 and launched the World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, where Azoulay and other founding members tried to bring imams and rabbis to work on initiatives to seek peace and rap­ prochement between Judaism and Islam. Yet these initiatives were largely led by elite members of society and rarely had a broad impact on the larger society, and especially not on the younger generation. This was partly because the transmission of political discourse had remained in the hands of a few privileged members of society since independence, as young people were rarely involved in the political debates and management of social, political and economic issues. In the aftermath of post-independence Morocco, King Hassan II encouraged the rise of a new tribal agrarian, political and economic elite, largely to counter the growing political base of dissident political opponents (Cherifi 1988; Hammoudi 1999; Marais 1969; Waterbury 1970). By the late 1970s, Moroccan cities and regions had become associated in the popular imagina­ tion with an indigenous patron elite with overreaching leverage in politics, the economy, sport and culture. In their work on tourism in Essaouira, Ross et al. (2002: 21) describe these state figures as ‘Economically Relevant Elite (ERE)’, arguing that they ‘are privileged by their proximity to the centers of power and decision-making. Thus they have the advantage of having a direct or indirect influence on political and economic decisions.’ While these lead­

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  213 ers include members of academia, culture, civil society, media and politics, they are largely associated with the ‘economic field because their decision making can affect economic realities . . . [This elite] has [a] disproportionate amount of economic value, through its business networks, as well as social and political prestige’ (2002: 21). In the 1990s, festivals became one of the venues through which the Moroccan state began to showcase its tourism around different cultural and religious themes. In Fez, for example, Faouzi Skali founded the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music in 1994, making the city one of the leading destinations of religious tourism in the early 1990s (Kapchan 2008). The success and popularity of the World Sacred Music Festival encouraged the native leadership of the city of Essaouira (historically known as Mogador) to launch the Essaouira Gnawa Festival of World Music in 1997. Unlike the Fez festival, the Gnawa Festival has managed to draw a large national and international audience over the years. The festival’s brand focused largely on Moroccan-African musical dimensions, occasionally cel­ ebrating other African and African American musical traditions, including jazz (Fig. 10.4). New Seville By early 2000, the Jewish history of cities such as Fez, Marrakesh and Essaouira had been appropriated and repackaged, highlighting the history of cultural tolerance in Morocco and putting al-Andalus at the centre of the national tourism project. Using a translated passage from Marruecos andaluz by Rodolfo Gil Benumeya, Eric Calderwood (2018: 11) explains how this link between Morocco and Muslim Spain was established before the inde­ pendence period: In 1492 and in 1610, the majority of Muslims from Andalucia and Murcia went to Morocco. There, they founded neighbourhoods and cities, where they faithfully preserved and reproduced all the customs of their land of origin. Fez, Tetouan, and Rabat are the three great Andalusian capitals . . . They gave a Hispano-Muslim organization to the Moroccan state and government, and, to Moroccan Islam, they gave a local air that does not exist in the countries of the East because it originates on the shores of the Guadalquivir. Thanks to Fez, Tetouan, and Rabat, Morocco eventually

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Figure 10.4  Flyer for Andalusias Festival, 2018. Credit André Azoulay

became a living museum, where the Andalucía of the Middle Ages remains intact.

This statement written in 1942, Calderwood notes, captures the discourse of Morocco as a ‘living museum’ of historical Muslim Spain. The post-1990s festivalisation of Moroccan urban spaces is partly about the foregrounding of the spirit of al-Andalus, which is believed to survive in Moroccan ‘music, architecture, crafts, clothing, dialect and religion’ (Calderwood 2018: 11). Prior to early in 2000, Essaouira was primarily marketed as a city with African connections instead of Andalusian links. In fact, the National Festival of

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  215 Andalusian Music is historically held in Fez, while the International Gharnati Festival takes place annually in Oujda. The connection between Essaouira and Muslim Spain was established on the grounds that the city is founded upon many Mediterranean cultures and religions, which include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs and Berbers. This shift from the African Gnawa dimension to the Andalusian spirit is also connected to a regional and global performance of ‘convivencia’ in which Morocco tried to be an active and leading actor. In 2004, the Festival of the Atlantic Andalusias was inaugurated in Fez, leading to a new debate about Morocco as the ‘New Seville’, where Jews and Muslims would seek refuge in the same way Jews sought protection in Morocco after the Inquisition. Located on the Atlantic coast, Essaouira was founded in 1760 by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah as a port city replacing the port of Agadir. For this reason, the sultan encouraged many Jewish merchants from northern Morocco and Europe to settle in the city, promising them tax incentives. While the majority of Essaouira’s population had Berber (Haha) and Arab (Shiadma) origins, about 40 per cent was Jewish (Schroeter 1988). Today, more than 70,000 inhabitants live in the city, but only a few Jews remain. A native Jew of the city of Essaouira, André Azoulay, advisor to the late King Hassan II and the current king, Mohammed VI, represents an example of the ‘economically relevant elite’ at the centre of festival tourism and local economic development in the city. In the 1990s, the Moroccan economy weakened, failing to meet the rising numbers of unemployed university graduates. In the absence of natural resources such as oil and natural gas, and given the successive years of drought that had a negative impact on agriculture, King Hassan II encouraged tourism projects in the Moroccan economy. In this context, music and cultural festivals increased throughout the country, including Essaouira generating a new economic income outside of the declining fishing activity of the city. At the centre of many national and international projects of inter-faith dialogue between Jews and Muslims, Azoulay and other Moroccan Jews and Muslims represent an economic elite with a substantial impact on the revival of their own native cities. In many media interviews, Azoulay has voiced over the years a strong commitment to showcasing the history of Jewish–Muslim coexistence (al-ta‘āyush) in his hometown. Azoulay re-tells stories from his

216 | aomar bo um childhood during the early 1950s where Jews and Muslims lived in the same neighbourhood, and occasionally in the same compound, while maintaining their religious identities. A childhood story has re-emerged over the years in Azoulay’s media conversation. The story goes: It was a Winter evening in the 1950s inside my father’s business office at the end of a street in the Kasbah of Essaouira/Mogador when Hajd Limam, a family friend came to see my father. After greetings, he took a small bag full of soil from his djellaba and put it in my father’s hand as he said ‘This is for you and for your family. I came from my pilgrimage to al-Quds and because it was impossible for you to go, I came to share with you my prayers and bring you a portion of this sacred soil which belongs to both of us.’ (2012, 25–6)

In the eyes of Azoulay, this childhood memory reflects his belief in a rooted tolerance that has, over centuries, marked social, religious and political encounters between Jews and Muslims in Morocco in general, and in his hometown Essaouira in particular. Following a brief period abroad in the early 1960s, Azoulay returned to Morocco in the 1990s as the winds of political reforms began to blow and the dreams of a Palestinian–Israeli peace agreement were shaping following the early days of the Oslo Agreement. Encouraged by the economic policies of Hassan II (especially after the nomination of Serge Berdugo as Minister of Tourism in 1995) as a means of encouraging Jewish tourism and support for an ailing Moroccan economy, Azoulay turned his attention to the urban revival of his hometown through the festivalisation of the public space of the city (Belghazi 2006; Boum 2011). Museums, Research Centres and Muslim Youth In the first years of the twenty-first century, an anti-festivalisation movement emerged in response to these festivals, especially as they began to feature Israeli musicians of Moroccan descent. Many activists saw these events as part of the normalisation of the country’s relationship with Israel. In the mean­ time, Islamic figures contested these activities as a sign of moral decline and waste of financial resources. Nevertheless, the festivals continued to attract national and global visitors over the years. At the same time the leadership began to focus on building partnerships with Muslim youth from Morocco

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  217 and abroad. The Mimouna Club became the face of these conversations among the younger generation. Azoulay represented an opportunity to reach out to a larger population of Moroccan youth. As President of the Executive Committee of the Foundation of the Three Cultures and Three Religions based in Seville, and one of the founding members of the Project Aladdin Group, Azoulay moved from festivals to youth awareness and education. On the basis of his belief that Essaouira and Morocco are the only places where a new partnership and alliance between Judaism and Islam could be built and fostered, Azoulay turned his attention to the creation of an intellectual and cultural debate about Judaism and Islam. While Essaouira housed more than thirty private and public synagogues, the majority of the private synagogues had fallen apart. Between 2015 and 2018, the nineteenthcentury Bet Ha-Knesset Simon Attia Synagogue underwent a massive reno­ vation funded by the Moroccan government in partnership with Association Essaouira Mogador and the personal directorship of Azoulay. The renovation charges totalled close to 900,000 Euros. Unlike the majority of restored synagogues, which became key destinations for Jewish tourism, Slat Attia was restored with a different purpose. The building will not only serve as a house of worship; it is also meant to operate as a museum and a centre for research where conferences will be organised and researchers will be housed. Named after Haim Zafrani (1925–2004), one of the leading scholars of Moroccan Judaism and a native of Essaouira, Le Centre de Recherches Haïm Zafrani sur l’Histoire des Relations Islam-Judaïsme will be housed on the second floor of the building (Fig. 10.5). The centre is meant to highlight, through research and academic conferences, the long history of encounters and social relations between Jews and Muslims in Morocco. In the twentieth century, Simon Attia Synagogue housed the rabbinical courts of Essaouira. In 2018, Azoulay inaugurated the Centre d’Études et de Recherches Abraham Zagouri, which will also be housed on the second floor of the museum. Named after Zagouri, a leading figure in Moroccan Jewish law, the centre will organise conferences and sponsor research on Moroccan Jewish law. By turning the synagogue into research centres with a focus on Jewish history and law and the connections between Islam and Judaism, Azoulay is trying to revive a different dimension of the history of Essaouira and its con­ nections to Europe, America and Africa. After decades of festivals, Azoulay is

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Figure 10.5  Celia and Haim Zafrani Centre for the Study of Islam and Judaism. Photograph by the author, 2019

aiming to establish the urban space of Essaouira as a brand of ‘convivencia’ and a ‘sacred’ environment where Muslims and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians can meet and engage in dialogue. Even with the physical absence of Jews from Essaouira, Azoulay and the Association Essaouira-Mogador have engaged over the years in the cultural packaging and advertising of the city’s Jewish heritage as a symbol of its tolerance and a token of its respect for religious difference and minorities. In the early 1990s, Essaouira managed to compete with Fez over the brand of ‘convivencia’ by focusing on the African and later Andalusian dimensions of Moroccan history. Today, with the addition of its museum and research centres, Essaouira will potentially challenge the Jewish Museum of Casablanca as both a regular ‘stop’ in the cultural tours of Jewish and non-Jewish foreign tourists and the only Jewish museum in the Arab world (Fig. 10.6). While the exceptional image of Morocco as a country friendly to Jews grew, becoming part of a global circulation of ‘Moroccan distinctiveness’, the Government expanded its focus on Jewish culture conservation and mar­ keting to include the Mellah of Marrakesh, cemeteries, and synagogues in

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  219

Figure 10.6  Museum of Essaouira. Photograph by the author, 2019

Fez, Casablanca and Essaouira. Yet, despite academic interest in Moroccan Judaism among a small circle of students and university professors, Moroccan universities continue to witness a lack of intellectual enthusiasm for Judaism and Moroccan Jews, largely because of the political weight of the Arab–Israeli conflict and the potential stigma that can be attached to anyone studying Jews (Boum 2013). In 2007, an association of Muslim students known as the Mimouna Club was established at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. It became a central part of the ‘branding convivencia’ project. Made up mainly of Muslim youth and headed by Elmehdi Boudra, a graduate of Brandeis University, the association established a partnership with Azoulay in Essaouira. In the summers of 2017 and 2018, the Moroccan Jewish University organised by the Mimouna Club was held in Essaouira in partnership with the Association Essaouira Mogador (Fig. 10.7). The Moroccan Jewish University has emerged as an annual gathering of thirty to forty Muslim students involved in issues relating to Moroccan Judaism. The gathering began in 2015 and has been held every year since then. Equally importantly, Mimouna has also been involved in international c­ ollaborations involving Muslims and Jews

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Figure 10.7 The Mimouna Club. Credit Elmehdi Boudra, 2019

from the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. In 2018, the Mimouna Club and the Drop of Milk, an Egyptian Association headed by Magda Haroun invested in the restoration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues, attended the Festival of Andalusias in Essaouira. The daughter of Shahata Haroun, Magda is today one of the last Jews in Egypt (who number exactly six Jewish women aged 66–92) and the head of her community. ‘I am the last one to close the door and turn off the lights of the synagogue’, she told me during a meeting in New York in 2019; ‘I need to make sure that the keys of the cemeteries and synagogues are handed to a new generation of watchmen like André Azoulay.’ For Haroun, the Moroccan model is unique in successfully preserving Jewish heritage despite the decline of the com­ munity. Accordingly, the Mimouna Club and the Drop of Milk recently launched a partnership that involves training young people to learn about Jewish history through academic meetings. In February 2019 a conference on Maimonides was co-organised by both organisations to raise awareness among Muslim youth. The gathering was held in the recently restored syna­

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  221 gogue of Slat El-Fassiyin. In July 2019, the same group will meet in Cairo, in the Synagogue of Moses Maimonides. Drawing from his childhood and personal experience of Jewish-Muslim history in Essaouira, Azoulay anchors his model of Essaouira as a site of con­ vivencia and a mahaj (pilgrimage site) of tolerance between faiths, ethnicities and nationalities. At the same time, he understands that the discourse of tolerance and inter-faith dialogue requires that a model and initiative of prac­ tice be routinised in a society that has lost its Jewish population after years of migration. The centre for the study of Islam and Judaism will potentially challenge the traditional way of studying Judaism in Moroccan public uni­ versities, by highlighting the connection between these Abrahamic religions and the social relations that characterised Jewish–Muslim relations across the centuries. The model of Simon Attia represents an innovation as regards museums in the Arab world. It not only builds its motto on an imagined historical perception of tolerance, but it also aspires to make it a subject of research and learning by connecting the museum to the research centre. In light of this, while the teaching of Moroccan Jewish history and culture is yet to take place in the national education system, Azoulay aspires to move the Jewish–Muslim debate in Morocco from the performance of convivencia to intellectual debate, thereby reclaiming the Andalusian model as a Moroccan brand to be copied by future generations in the Arab world and beyond. Notes 1. Examples of these sites include:;; www.moroc­;;; www.communaute­;; www.cimetierejuifcasablanca. com; 2. See (last accessed 25 November 2019).

Bibliography Azoulay, André (2012), ‘Essaouira, Mogador: pour d’autres lendemains?’, in Leïla Sebbar (ed.), Une enfance juive en Méditerranée musulmane, Saint-Pourçain-surSioule: Bleu Autour. Belghazi, Taieb (2006), ‘Festivalization of Urban Space in Morocco’, Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, 15, 1: 97–107.

222 | aomar bo um Boum, Aomar (2010), ‘The Plastic Eye: The Politics of Jewish Representation in Moroccan Museums’, Ethnos, 75: 49–77. Boum, Aomar (2012), ‘“Sacred Week”: Re-Experiencing Jewish–Muslim Co-existence in Urban Moroccan Space’, in Glenn Bowman (ed.), Sharing the Sacra: The Politics and Pragmatics of Intercommunal Relations around Holy Places, New York: Berghahn, pp. 139–5. Boum, Aomar (2013), Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Boum, Aomar (2014), ‘“The Virtual Genizah”: Emerging North African Jewish and Muslim Identities Online’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 46, 3: 597–601. Boum, Aomar (2017), ‘“Curating the Mellah”: Cultural Conservation, Jewish Heritage Tourism and Normalization Debates in Morocco and Tunisia, 1960s– Present’, in Osama Abi-Mershed (ed.), Social Currents in North Africa: Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring, London: Hurst. Calderwood, Eric (2018), Colonial al-Andalus: Spain and the Making of Modern Moroccan Culture, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Cherifi, Rachida (1988), Le makhzen politique au Maroc: Hier et aujourd’hui, Casablanca: Afrique Orient. Gruber, Ruth Ellen (2002), Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, Berkeley: University of California Press. Hammoudi, Abdellah (1999), ‘The Reinvention of Dar al-mulk: The Moroccan Political System and its Legitimation’, in Rahma Bourqia and Susan Gilson Miller (eds), In the Shadow of the Sultan, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 129–75. Kapchan, Deborah (2008), ‘The Promise of Sonic Translation: Performing the Festive Sacred in Morocco’, American Anthropologist, 110, 4: 467–83. Kosansky, Oren (2002), ‘Tourism, Charity and Profit: The Movement of Money in Moroccan Jewish Pilgrimage’, Cultural Anthropology, 17, 3: 359–400. Marais, Octave (1969), ‘Les relations entre ka monarchie et la classe dirigeante au maroc’, Revue française des science politique, 19, 6: 1,172–86. Miccoli, Dario (2013), ‘Digital Museums: Narrating and Preserving the History of Egyptian Jews on the Internet’, in Emanuela Trevisan Semi, Dario Miccoli and Tudor Parfitt (eds), Memory and Ethnicity: Ethnic Museums in Israel and the Diaspora, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 195–222.

a m oroccan a ndalus i n essao uir a    |  223 Pieprzak, Katarzyna (2010), Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Postcolonial Morocco, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ross, Eric, John Shoup, Driss Maghraoui, and Abdelkrim Marzouk (2002), Assessing Tourism in Essaouira, Ifrane: Al Akhawayn University. Schroeter, Daniel (1988), Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, 1844–1886, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Trevisan Semi, Emanuela, Dario Miccoli, and Tudor Parfitt (2013), Memory and Ethnicity: Ethnic Museums in Israel and the Diaspora, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars. Wagenhofer, Sophie (2013), ‘“We Have Our Own History”: Voices from the Jewish Museum of Casablanca’, in Emanuela Trevisan Semi, Dario Miccoli, and Tudor Parfitt (eds), Memory and Ethnicity: Ethnic Museums in Israel and the Diaspora, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, pp. 169–94. Waterbury, John (1970), Commander of the Faithful: The Moroccan Political Élite – A Study in Segmented Politics, New York: Columbia University Press. Zafrani, Haim (1996), Juifs d’andalousie et du maghreb, Paris: Maisoneuve et Larose. Zagouri, Abraham (1958), Le divorce d’après la loi talmudique chez les marocains de confession israélite et les réformes actuelles en la matière, Paris: Librairie générale de droit et de jurisprudence. Zagouri, Abraham (1959), Le régime successoral des israélites marocains et les réformes actuelles en la matière, Tangier: Les éditions marocaines et internationales.



ccounting for 120,000 individuals at the time of the country’s independence in 1956, the Jewish community of Tunisia represents fewer than 1,500 people today, who mainly live on the Island of Djerba, where two communities exist (Valensi and Udovitch 1991). The largest of these resides in Hara Kbira (‘Big Neighbourhood’), a neighbourhood located south of Houmt Souk, the main city on the Island. The second community lives in Hara Sghira (‘Small Neighbourhood’), near the Synagogue of al-Ghriba, a building dating from the first destruction of the temple by the Babylonians (486 bce), so legend has it. The first waves of the Jewish-Tunisian exodus started with the creation of Israel. Between 1948 and 1954, at a rough estimate 25,000 people left the country. Migration mostly concerned small communities from inside the country for whom going to Israel represented both a religious consecra­ tion and a solution to the post-war economic downfall. Despite the living conditions of the Jewish community in Tunisia improving in the mid-1950s, new periods of crisis emerged following the French bombing of the village of Sakiet Sidi Youssef in 1958, the Bizerte crisis in 1961 and the Six Day 227

228 | habi b k azda gh l i War against Israel in 1967. These events led to successive waves of Jewish migration from Tunisia to Israel, France and other European countries.1 Today, it is only during the annual pilgrimage to the Ghriba that the Jewish community of Tunisia is visible to the public eye. Elsewhere, including in Tunis, it is rare to see any evidence of Jewish life, even if photos of the past suggest that Jews were active participants in all realms of society (Allali 2014). As Maurice Halbwachs (1994) writes, for a collective memory to endure, it needs supporting social structures. But what happens when the structures collapse? In the context of Tunisia, we observe that the disappearance of Jewish-Tunisian culture inside the homeland led to its cultivation overseas, within the new countries of residence of the diaspora. Indeed, during the first decades following the initial wave of exile, many associations were cre­ ated to cultivate and revive Jewish-Tunisian culture abroad, mostly with melancholy and nostalgia.2 In this period, scholarly work on the Jewish com­ munity of Tunisia was conducted mostly by historians of Jewish-Tunisian descent (Sebag 1991; Taieb 2000). At home, however, the study of minority communities, especially Jewish history, has long been tainted with suspicion, despite a growing interest among university students. Only in the mid-1990s did researchers in Tunisia start to develop a taste for the study of domestic Jewish history and culture.3 This renewed interest has increased markedly since the 2011 revolution. It was in this context of new cultural opportunities that the Laboratoire du Patrimoine at the University of La Manouba-Tunis decided to organise in May 2016, in parallel to the annual pilgrimage to the Ghriba, a symposium for discussing the possibility of opening a museum of Jewish-Tunisian heritage in Tunisia. Alongside professionals and academics from Tunisia, we invited curators from museums in Morocco, France and Turkey to share their experiences of displaying Jewish culture and history in countries where this community is small but present. This short chapter gives an account of the many predicaments that the establishment of a museum of Jewish-Tunisian heritage in Tunisia faces. I start by sketching how the project came into being. I then move on to discuss the status of Jewish heritage in Tunisia. Finally, I foreground the most important debates surrounding the museum, including dissenting voices within the Jewish community itself.

is t u nis i a rea dy f or a jewi sh m us e um?    |  229 Between Scepticism and a Desire to Move Forward The idea of a museum of Jewish-Tunisian heritage did not come from the Jewish community of Tunisia, which was too modest to support such an ‘unsafe’ project. Neither did it come from the Tunisian Government, whose responsibility, one would assume, is to preserve and exhibit vulnerable forms of heritage which bear witness to Tunisia’s vibrant heritage. The museum is the culmination of a long intellectual pursuit: twenty years of research and teaching about minority history led by my colleague Abdelhamid Larguèche4 and myself at the University of Tunis. Since the beginning of our work as academics, we have encouraged students to write about minorities in Tunisia, and have organised symposiums and conferences on the place of Jewish cul­ ture within Tunisian history.5 It was only natural that the next step would be the public display of this impressive collection of knowledge accumulated throughout the years. The museum immediately came to mind as the best channel for collecting, exhibiting but also preserving Jewish material culture and history. While the Jewish population of Tunisia is diminishing, its descendants number hundreds of thousands. They live in Israel, France, and elsewhere in Europe and North America. The creation of a museum in Tunisia would offer them the opportunity to capture more fully the stories about the ‘Lost Paradise’ they heard from their parents. Above all, the museum will address the citizens of Tunisia. The presence of Jews in this country is not sufficiently known by the population, especially by the younger generations, who are less familiar with the Jewish history of their country. This rich history is yet to reach beyond academic circles and barely features in history books. Opening a Jewish-Tunisian museum in Tunis will bridge this gap and allow us to measure the role played by Jewish citizens in the country’s history and social life. This is especially significant in the context of our current transitional political situation. The museum’s mission is to show the lost facets of our national history that contribute to shaping Tunisian identity. This identity cannot be reduced to Islam or the Arab world, even if these have undeniably been very important identity references since the fall of the Roman Empire in this region of the world. The museum aims to demonstrate that the history of Tunisia did not

230 | habi b k azda gh l i start with the Arab and Muslim conquest of the seventh century. Tunisian people have Berber, Spanish, Turkish, Roman and Jewish roots. It is time for these cultures to be celebrated. A Jewish Museum as a Tool for Researching a Plural Past Tunisia enjoys a rich museum network, which has roots in the nineteenth century, when local and foreign elites in the region developed a marked inter­ est in archaeology and collecting. This interest materialised in the opening of grandiose institutions, such as the Alaoui museum (1889), later called the Bardo, and the museum of Carthage (Gutron 2010). Since independence, museums have continued to grow exponentially across the country, extend­ ing to the preservation of material culture and immaterial forms of heritage (Rey 2019). The Jewish-Tunisian Museum will add to this network. It will expand research into a form of minority heritage in Tunisia (Mbarek 2017). Indeed, the new institution will have for its mission to safeguard the material culture and memory of a community that has always existed in the history of Tunisia but has failed to capture the interest of the Tunisian population. It will be the materialisation of Tunisia’s plurality and will respond to the short-sighted vision of identity defended by conservative religious currents. Since its inception, the project of a museum dedicated to Jewish-Tunisian heritage has generated plenty of interest from the community itself, especially from those who have suffered the experience of being forgotten in their home­ land, what Albert Memmi (1994) calls ‘the suffering of a lack of recognition’. People are excited that their history will be unearthed to expose their ‘JewishTunisian heritage’. Interest in Jewish history and culture has spread to the majority of the Tunisian population, who, after decades of historical denial, are laying claim to Jewish presence in Tunisia. Many commentators have expressed their strong and unconditional support for the museum project, affirming that Jews have always been part of Tunisian society: ‘As Tunisian citizens, they contributed to many aspects of Tunisian life, including building, cuisine and art. This museum is a nice project of cultural mediation.’6 For the Jewish community of Tunisia, the project is all the more impor­ tant as it comes in a period of heritage loss. It follows the closing down of Gilles Jacob Lellouche’s restaurant Mamie Lily, the last Jewish restaurant in la Goulette, after repeated threats from radicalised Islamists. Opened in 1996,

is t u nis i a rea dy f or a jewi sh m us e um?    |  231 Mamie Lily, named after Lellouche’s mother, was what some would call ‘an institution’ in this neighbourhood of Tunis: one room full of photos and family objects, a bastion of Jewish-Tunisian cuisine that proposed an age-old culinary tradition (Lila 2015). As Lellouche often said, ‘Mamie Lily offers a trip throughout time to rediscover forgotten meals’ (Lila 2015). Upstairs in the restaurant, Lellouche had created a little museum with the remnants of Jewish culture he had gathered, Dar el-Dekhra (the house of memory). This museum was part of the Association for the Preservation of JewishTunisian Heritage which Lellouche founded with Jewish and non-Jewish friends sharing a passion for this ‘discrete’ segment of Tunisian heritage. For Jacob Lellouche and his friends, Dar el-Dekhra was an attempt to address a memory deficit. As he rightly points out, ‘the presence of Jewish culture and history in Tunisian museums is almost non-existent’. Indeed, the Bardo Museum has a small room that holds a showcase displaying cult objects. Very similar is the situation in the museums of Moknine and Djerba, where space dedicated to Jewish heritage, if it survives, remains proportionally very small and mostly dedicated to jewellery and religion (Rey 2019). Lellouch adds, ‘there is a very rich Jewish life beyond the Synagogue that found many channels of expression, including political, social and artistic. I don’t see the point of making a museum if it will only address the religious aspect of Jewish-Tunisian life’ (in Zomersztajn 2016). A Partnership Reading the press reports on the symposium organised in La Ghriba, many Tunisians expressed their doubts about the viability of a museum of JewishTunisian heritage and whether it could make up for the failed integration of this religious community in Tunisia since independence. On the official front, however, the project immediately won the support of Salma Elloumi Rekik, Tunisian Minister for Tourism, who declared that such a project was not only feasible but also necessary.7 She noted that ‘[t]he Jews from Tunisia have a very long history dating from Antiquity. Such a long history deserves to be preserved, known, studied and handed down to future generations . . . This is how we will protect the young people from narrow-mindedness and its terrible consequences.’ The minister insisted on the need for Tunisia to ‘rediscover its cultural and religious diversity’ (Zomersztajn 2016). Elloumi

232 | habi b k azda gh l i Rekik’s intervention is quite significant, as this was the first time that a member of the Tunisian Government had given official support to a project pertaining to Jewish heritage. This support is all the more important as, in order to safeguard Jewish-Tunisian memory and open a new path towards tolerance in the country, it is important that the museum be a joint scheme of equal partnership between civil society and the political sphere. Groups and individuals involved in the preservation of Jewish heritage need the technical expertise and the moral patronage of government agencies, such as the Institut National du Patrimoine (INP), the state institution that oversees museums and historical sites in Tunisia. Conversely, the INP needs to consult with representatives of the Jewish-Tunisian population to ensure that the project aligns with the community’s expectations regarding the preservation of its past. It was with this aim in mind that the Association Internationale pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine Culturel des Juifs de Tunisie was created on 22 May 2018 in Paris. As France is the country that absorbed close to half of the Jewish population of Tunisia, it was crucial to involve the members of this community in the museum project. Presided over by the historian Lucette Valensi, the Association assumes various roles. First, it seeks to promote the project with the Jewish-Tunisian diaspora, as well as organising the collection of objects and memories relating to Jewish-Tunisian cultural heritage. This mission is of the utmost importance, as the Tunisian Government will not cover the cost of the museum alone. Similarly, the Jewish community of Tunisia being so small, it is impossible for its members to support the project on their own. The dismantlement of Dar el-Dekhra in Tunis is an example of the limitations they face. It is therefore most important to create a partner­ ship with the Tunisian state which is based on equality and co-operation and which will ensure the security and preservation of the objects loaned or donated to the museum (Zomersztajn 2016). The Jewish Museum in the Service of Democratic Transition Reinvestment in Jewish-Tunisian heritage is undeniably connected with the ongoing process of democratisation undergone by Tunisia since the 2011 revolution. The revolution has created opportunities for many minorities – religious, ethnic and social – to push for their rights, be recognised, or simply surface (Pouessel 2015). As Virginie Rey (2018) shows in her work,

is t u nis i a rea dy f or a jewi sh m us e um?    |  233 one important channel of resistance and advocacy used by minority groups to achieve greater cultural visibility and political impact in Tunisia has been heritage, through festivals, museums, exhibitions and, in the most extreme circumstances, forced dispossession of built forms or material culture. In the case of Jewish-Tunisians, the founding of now-defunct Dar el-Dekhra was a cornerstone for the community. Another example is the pilgrimage to the Ghriba Synagogue. This important Jewish festival in the country has gained in size since the revolution and has attracted extra media coverage, including reports on the Jewish festival taking place alongside the pilgrimage, Lag ba omer. The creation of a museum would not only support already-existing cultural programming about Jewish history and culture in Tunisia, but also further the democratic ideals supported by the revolution. It would help Tunisians to better define their relationship with alterity. It is about re-engaging with this important segment of our history and showing that in democratic Tunisia one can accept difference and plurality. For Lucette Valensi (2018), ‘The decision made by the Tunisian authorities to support the creation of a museum dedicated to Jewish-Tunisian heritage has immense political meaning’. Indeed, Tunisia will, with Morocco, be the only Arab country to boast such a museum. No doubt, this initiative will contribute to reinforcing the positive reputation of Tunisia with the EU and with other democratic regions of the world. The Jewish-Tunisian novelist Maya Nahum (2017) has claimed: ‘this project is for Tunisia, the world, the outside, the Jews! Promoting a better understanding of diversity in this country will strengthen the fragile but burgeoning democracy!’ The situation is not with­ out irony. As Nahum states, ‘Jewish heritage in defence of democracy? This is the greatest irony of Arab history! The Arab Revolutions have failed. Tunisia is the only country where democracy subsists. Can the Jewish museum be its corner stone?’ Rey (2019) summarises this tension in the conclusion of her book, explaining that if [the revolution] is to be true to the principles of democratic free speech with which it was launched, it needs to depart from this unifying instinct and take this moment to re-evaluate the position of culture in the c­ ountry.

234 | habi b k azda gh l i This must be undertaken not only by addressing the financial and admin­ istrative lacunae of museums, but also the narrative they present. If many efforts have already been made to create a stronger bond between local people and their culture, to make the museum a more interesting and visitor-friendly experience, and this in often difficult financial and adminis­ trative conditions, there is still a pressing need to create a public space that is genuinely open to all voices, even those that are difficult to reconcile.

The Location of the Museum: In the Ghetto, or Elsewhere? But a question remains: where to build the museum? Most of the Jewish-built environment remaining in Tunisia is in Djerba. However, the committee thinks that Djerba already has an open-air museum in the form of the Ghriba synagogue and the old funduk (hotel) in which Jewish festivities are held. Because the museum will be such a unique site in which traces of Jewish culture and traditions from across the country are preserved, many within the committee think that it is only natural that its location should be in Tunis, the country’s capital city. They contend that this will help to increase the visibility of Jewish heritage and provide the museum with greater legitimacy as a government-sanctioned project. Perhaps the most suitable location in Tunis would be the great synagogue itself. Indeed, its size and its location in the modern part of the city make it an ideal space for the museum. However, this idea has been quickly rejected by some practising Jews, who continue to use a section of the synagogue to pray. By its size, the synagogue bears witness to the importance of Judaism in Tunisia. Inaugurated in 1937, the building was occupied by Germans soldiers during their brief stay in Tunisia from November 1942 to May 1943. In June 1967, the synagogue was the victim of anti-Semitic acts of vandalism. More recently, in February 2011, a month following the Revolution, Islamists gathered in front of the building chanting anti-Semitic slogans: ‘Death to the Jews!’. For the Jewish community of Tunis and Great Rabbi Bittan, the transformation of the synagogue into a museum would not only suggest that this religion no longer exists as a living tradition – it would also be a fatal blow to the visibility of Judaism in the capital city, where the great synagogue stands as the only remnant since the destruction of the old synagogue of La Hara in the 1960s. For a long time, indeed, the Jews of Tunis were associated with the

is t u nis i a rea dy f or a jewi sh m us e um?    |  235 neighbourhood of La Hara, where they lived for eight centuries since Sidi Mehrez, the patron saint of the city, allowed their presence intra muros. Some committee members for the museum project have suggested that the museum should be erected in this important neighbourhood, especially since the Jewish community of Tunis still owns several buildings in this part of the city, including a four-storey edifice used as the former headquarters for the Œuvre de Secours de l’Enfance between 1957 and 1967. No members of the community have yet objected to this idea domestically. They only ask that the Tunisian government buys the building or rents it so as to raise money to help the neediest make ends meet. Objections to this location have come from the diaspora in Paris, for whom the La Hara neighbourhood still represents a traumatic chapter in Jewish-Tunisian history: a ‘ghetto’ that their parents or grandparents aspired to escape for more prosperous parts of the city or Europe. For them, establishing the museum in La Hara would mean locking up the Tunisian Jews in the ghetto where they once were forced to live, packed like sardines in insalubrious conditions.

Figure 11.1  Sidi Mahrez Mosque, Tunis. Photograph by the author, 2019

236 | habi b k azda gh l i

Figure 11.2  Building of the Œuvre de Secours de l’Enfance, Tunis. Photograph by the author, 2019

Figure 11.3  Synagogue of Or-Thora, Tunis. Photograph by the author, 2019

is t u nis i a rea dy f or a jewi sh m us e um?    |  237 A Museum of Jewish Culture or a Museum of Tunisian Diversity? According to Silvia Finzi,8 descendant of a Republican Jew from Livorno who settled in Tunis more than two centuries ago, the museum should allow visitors to grasp the reality and richness of the history of the Jewish com­ munity of Tunisia (Zomersztajn 2016). Lucette Valensi (2018), for her part, believes that the museum should first and foremost address the local public. It must show Tunisian citizens that their society has always been plural and intends to remain so in the future; that their identity and their heritage are not ‘confined to Arab and Muslim culture’. She hopes that the museum programming will contribute to deconstructing misconceptions about Jewish culture, as well as countering false connections made between Judaism and Zionism, Judaism and sinners, and Judaism and Israel, all very prominent within Tunisian society. To do so, the museum will focus on the social and political context of Judaism in Tunisia, and the interactions between the Jewish population and non-Jewish communities – Christians, Muslims, Italians, Maltese, French, etc. – as well as the contribution of Tunisian Jews to Tunisian society. For Abdelhamid Larguèche, Director of the Heritage Section within the Tunisian Ministry of Culture, Jewish-Tunisian culture would gain even more visibility if it were exhibited alongside other margin­ alised forms of heritage in Tunisia, such as Berber, Christian, sub-Saharan African, Mediterranean, etc. But would a museum dedicated to plurality and diversity attract more visitors? Would Jewish-Tunisian culture really benefit from being represented alongside other cultural margins? Will the museum be in a space with a strong Jewish capital mémoriel, or in a building relevant to Tunisian society as a whole? Whatever the case, the Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage is a project that targets a multivalent audience: the non-Jewish majority, especially Muslim citizens, the Jews of Tunisia residing in the country or overseas, and tourists. But the message is the same for all: the importance of Jewish history and culture in this country. Despite their differing views regarding location and form, everyone agrees that the museum should not be a site of pilgrimage, but rather a space of encounter and historical rumination for international and Tunisian visitors alike. In making the museum a memorial space for the community alone, we would detract from its educational and cultural mission, bring the

238 | habi b k azda gh l i number of visitors down, or, worse, alienate them. In the face of remaining cultural reticence regarding Jewish culture and the presence of radical Islamic movements in the country, the museum will need uncompromising support from the Tunisian government, as well as to be fully integrated into the country’s official cultural and tourism networks. If a museum is a site that safeguards and regenerates memory and a place of cultural encounter, let us hope that such a project can contribute to bring­ ing the Tunisian people together, in spite of their differences. Notes 1. By the late 1960s, migration patterns had reached a numerical balance between Israel and Europe (especially France) (Ben Achour 2015). 2. Such associations include: L’Amicale des Sfaxiens du Monde; L’Amicale des Ex-travailleurs Juifs de Tunisie sous l’Occupation; Les Enfants de Béja; L’Association des Juifs Originaires de Bizerte; L’Association Mondiale des Israélite de Tunisie; Le Club des Tunes; L’Association Arts et Traditions Populaires des Juifs de Tunisie; L’Amicale des Juifs de Djerba; L’Amicale des Juifs de l’Ariana; etc. 3. Research comes mainly from the Faculté des Lettres, des Arts et des Humanités de l’Université de Tunis-Manouba. 4. Abdelhamid Larguèche is the author of a book based on his PhD dissertation in history, Les ombres de la ville. Pauvres, marginaux et minoritaires à Tunis (XVIII– XIX ème siècles), Tunis: Centre de Publication Universitaire (1999). 5. A symposium on Jewish history in Tunisia was held in February 1998 at the Faculté des Lettres de Tunis-Manouba. It was the first such event organised in the Arab world. The proceedings of this event have been published as a collection of essays edited by A. Allagui and Habib Kazdaghli (1999). 6. This declaration was made on 8 July 2018 by the journalist Habib Trabelsi in response to Zomersztajn’s article published in 2016. 7. ‘Votre réflexion aujourd’hui porte sur la faisabilité d’un musée des Juifs de Tunisie. Je considère que cela est faisable et même necessaire.’ Opening speech by Minister Elloumi on the occasion of the symposium regarding the feasibility of a Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage, held in May 2016. 8. Silvia Finzi is a Professor at the University of La Manouba-Tunis. She is editor-inchief of Il Corriere di Tunisi, the Italian newspaper founded by her father in 1956.

is t u nis i a rea dy f or a jewi sh m us e um?    |  239 Bibliography Allagui, A., and Habib Kazdaghli (1999), Histoire communautaire, histoire plurielle. La communauté juive de Tunisie, Tunis: Centre de Publication Universitaire. Allali, Bernard (2014), Les juifs de Tunisie. Un autre regard, Paris: B. Allali. Ben Achour, Olfa (2015), De la velléité à la volonté. L’émigration des juifs de Tunisie de 1943 à 1967. Un phénomène complexe, PhD dissertation, Université Jean Jaurès, 19 December. Gutron, Clémentine (2010), L’archéologie en Tunisie (XIX–XXème siècles). Jeux généalogiques sur l’antiquité, Tunis: IRMC. Halbawachs, Maurice (1994), Les cadres sociaux de la mémoire, Paris: Albin Michel. Larguèche, Abdelhamid (1999), Lesombres de la ville. Pauvres, marginaux et minoritaires à Tunis (XVIII–XIXème siècles), Tunis: Centre de Publication Universitaire. Le Monde (2016), ‘A la Goulette, l’art de vivre menacé des Juifs tunisiens’, 3 August. Lilia, Blaise (2015), ‘La fermeture de Mamie Lily, institution du patrimoine juif tunisien’, Middle East Eye (édition française), 28 October. Mbarek, Afef (2017), Patrimoines en contexte minoritaire en Méditerranée. Statuts, usages et devenir. Le Cas du patrimoine judéo-tunisien, PhD dissertation, Université de Tunis, 17 July. Memmi, Albert (1994), ‘Juif, Tunisien et Français’, in Abdelbaki Hermassi (ed.), ‘Villes exemplaires, villes déchirées: La Tunisie au miroir de sa communauté juive’, Confluences Méditerranée, 10. Nahum, Maya (2017), ‘Les juifs sont-ils un outil de la défense de la démocratie tunisienne ?’, Huffpost France. Rey, Virginie (2018), ‘The Radicalization of Heritage in Tunisia’, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, 7, 1: 67–84. Rey, Virginie (2019), Mediating Museums: Exhibiting Material Culture in Tunisia (1889–2016), Leiden: Brill. Sebag, Paul (1991), Histoire des juifs de Tunisie. Des origines à nos jours, Paris: L’Harmattan. Taieb, Jacques (2000), Sociétés juives du Maghreb moderne (1500–1900), Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose. Taieb, Jacques (2009), ‘L’échec de l’intégration des Juifs de Tunisie’, in S. Trigano (ed.), La fin du judaïsme en terre d’islam, Paris: Éditions Denoël, pp.  359–78.

240 | habi b k azda gh l i Valensi, Lucette, and Abraham Udovitch (1991), Juifs en Terre d’Islam. Les communautés de Djerba, Paris: Éditions des Archives Contemporaines. Zomersztajn, Nicolas (2016), ‘Un musée des juifs de Tunisie ?’, Regard, 844, 1 July.




n April 2016, at the Bloomberg Business Week Design Conference in San Francisco, Studio Libeskind, an acclaimed architecture firm with offices in New York City, Zurich and Milan, unveiled a conceptual design for an expansive Kurdistan Museum. The plans for a massive 150,000 sq. foot (14,000 sq. metre) Kurdistan cultural history museum captivated a select audience of architects and investors in San Francisco. Daniel Libeskind, predominantly known for his breathtaking postmodern designs of glass and technology-enhanced materials, suggested that the museum complex be constructed adjacent to the historic Erbil Citadel in Kurdistan Iraq. Libeskind architecture is defined by deconstructivism, a style that integrates shattered, distorted and fragmented shapes into structures. His projects have embraced extreme geometric forms (or geometric imbalances) and tend to defy gravitational expectations (Ramzy 2010: 47). Over decades, Studio Libeskind has earned an international reputation for creating spectacular commemorative museums, and the design plans for a Kurdistan Museum seemed to be in line with similar projects such as the Jewish Museums in Berlin and Copenhagen, the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, the 241

242 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y Military History Museum in Dresden and the extension to the Denver Art Museum. When Studio Libeskind unveiled the concept for a Kurdistan Museum at the press conference, it highlighted four distinct parts or ‘fragments’ to represent the divergent voices of disparate Kurdish legacies from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey (Neuendorf 2016). Different halls, communal spaces, gar­ dens and exhibits were envisioned, to bridge the tragedies of the past and highlight hopes for the future. The Kurdistan Memory Programme (KMP 2016), an organisation committed to documenting Kurdish lived experience, quoted Libeskind’s vision as focused on ‘two fragments [that] create an emo­ tive duality: a heavy and opaque mass, the Anfal Line, which symbolizes the genocide under Saddam Hussein; and the Liberty Line, a lattice structure filled with greenery that ascends towards the sky and culminates with an eter­ nal flame – a powerful symbol in Kurdish culture’. However, the concept of such a Kurdistan Museum in Erbil almost immediately faced insurmountable challenges, not only because of its $250 million price tag but also with regard to its ideological positioning in a politically fragmented and economically battered region of Iraq. In 2009, Nechirvan Barzani, then prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), had approached Libeskind to develop an initial concept for a future Kurdistan Museum. Until the official unveiling of the museum’s design, the entire museum project had been kept a secret. Inside Kurdistan, no announcements were made about the museum, nor was public com­ mentary invited relating to its creation. When media outlets reported on the design plans for the museum, Kurdish artists and activists in the North American and European diaspora felt excluded and alienated. Aggrieved that they had not been consulted or made aware of plans for a museum, the participants in this ethnographic project expressed a deep sense of suspicion about the underlying political motivations for it and its selected location in Erbil (Participants #31, 33, 38 and 45) This chapter explores why some members of the Kurdish diaspora reject the Kurdistan Museum as they examine their experiences with museums in the homeland and discuss the underlying reasons for the project. In addition, the author enquires whether a Kurdistan Museum could successfully portray

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  243 the complex and interwoven histories and lived experiences of a heterogene­ ous and politically divided people such as the Kurds. Finally, the author asks Kurdish diaspora activist-artists, including documentarians, ­filmmakers, painters and writers, to curate their own imaginary Kurdish exhibits in a museum under their control. In this chapter, diaspora Kurdish activists share how they would fill an imaginary Kurdish museum and discuss what por­ traying Kurdish ethnic identity means to them. In the literature, claims to Kurdishness (Kurdayeti) refer to a personal sense of Kurdish ethnic identity, which is defined in the absence of an independent Kurdish nation-state. Kurdish ethnic identity continues to evolve as regional conflicts produce a range of Kurdish leaderships (in Iraq, Turkey and Syria) and continue to shape population groups within the modernising societies (Natali 2005). A total of twenty-three self-identified diaspora Kurds provided sugges­ tions for various museum exhibits that are discussed in this chapter. The participants described themselves as deeply involved with networked Kurdish diaspora organisations and cultural groups. All of the Kurdish diaspora participants in this project maintain active relationships with family mem­ bers and friends throughout various Kurdish regions (with the exception of Iranian Kurdistan). The participants ranged in age from 25 to 50 years and were identified through a numbering system to guarantee confidentiality. Among the participants, seventeen identified as male and six as female. Their positionality is reflective of both a geographic and socio-political insider and outsider status, since the participants originate from Kurdish regions and maintain relationships there, yet permanently live in the diaspora in Germany and the US. The participants described themselves as supporters of secular and leftist organisations, which informed their challenges to exist­ ing power structures, official histories and religious practices, and endorsed principles of gender equality. The interviews took place in the German cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Duisburg, as well as in Washington, DC and New York City in the USA. The author interviewed the participants in English and in German between August 2014 and August 2018. Interviews between 2014 and April 2016 focused exclusively on curating imaginary Kurdish exhibits as Kurdish com­ munities struggled to preserve their culture during the rise of Islamic State (IS) and Turkey’s surreptitious support for IS fighters. However, i­nterviews

244 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y following the April 2016 announcements of the Libeskind Kurdistan Museum project also integrated questions relating to diasporic responses to the Erbil-based museum. Snowball sampling was used to recruit additional interviewees among the acquaintances of participating diaspora artists. In the loosely structured interviews, the author asked participants to discuss their thoughts about the creation of a Kurdistan Museum in Erbil and then followed up by requesting that they reflect on curating Kurdish exhibits.1 To explore how Kurdish activist-artists would fill an imaginary Kurdish museum, all rules relating to professional museological practices were set aside. Exhibit locations and suggestions in this chapter, however, should not be misunderstood as representing clearly defined positions commonly held by Kurdish diaspora communities in the USA or in Germany. The proposed exhibits suggest that diaspora Kurds want to be able to define their own expressions of ethnic identity and control their narrations and representations. As activist-artists, many clearly reject narratives that are enhanced by colonial perspectives on Kurdish identity in homeland regions (Bayir 2013), and they also challenge their portrayal by Western elites. Participants in this project clearly liberate themselves from superimposed and demeaning depictions of Kurdish peoples. Many of the exhibit ideas demonstrate that particular cultural and historical notions distress members of the Kurdish diaspora. Some feel a strong need to publicly demonstrate their cultural originality through visual, artistic and aesthetic representations. Diaspora activist-artists tend to value their literary traditions deeply, and embrace multifaceted constructions of identity, heritage and community. Therefore, it is not surprising that highly political, ethno-nationalist Kurds find occasional agreement with Kurdish artists who seem predominantly interested in preserving their cultural heritage. Most participants identified Iran and Turkey as focused on erasing Kurdish markers of identity and cul­ ture because of longstanding government policies that try to ‘civilize and tame’ Kurds (Bookchin 2018; Yavuz 2001: 9). As conversations with participants in this project illustrate, diaspora activ­ ists represent a wide range of political ideologies. They frequently disagree with each other about the socio-political role Kurdish museums could play in strengthening cultural knowledge about Kurdish communities. Nearly everyone included in the project has been involved in political work advanc­

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  245 ing cultural rights for Kurdish communities in their respective ‘homeland regions’, including in Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkish Kurdistan and Rojava/Syrian Kurdistan. Silences and Omissions in National Museums Many national museums grew out of privately held aristocratic collections, often expanding their galleries during colonial periods, and were maintained through patronage practices endorsed by global elites or state structures (Karp et al. 2006: 3). Museums continue to be at the heart of ongoing debates in democratic societies relating to the creation of publicly accessible, educa­ tional and discursive spaces (Jeffers 2003). As the cultural studies scholar Susan Ashley and others have noted, contemporary museums ‘have been called on to democratise their constructions of identity, heritage and com­ munity, to represent social and cultural differences as well as homogeneity, and to broaden their functioning as public stages for citizen participation’ (Ashley 2014: 153; Eidheim et al. 2012). Similarly, Lilla Vonk has argued that ‘[m]useums are no longer mere aesthetic temples showcasing the richness of culture; they fulfil an important social and educational rule. Exhibiting indigenous collections should therefore be connected to exhibiting their cur­ rent socio-political situations’ (2013: 12). However, it is still common for diaspora, minority, refugee and indig­ enous communities to struggle with cultural representations and narrations that are curated in the context of national museums (Simpson 2006). Richard Sandell (2003) long proposed that access, participation and representation are essential elements in communicating a wide range of multicultural aspects of social life in museums, yet colonial legacies, silences and omissions continue to shape such exhibitions in many ways (Andreassen 2016). Selected cultural contexts tell a particular story and frequently dominate for the purpose of social inclusion or exclusion (Sandell 2003: 45–6). Today’s museums, according to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), should be understood to include cultural centres and other facili­ ties that preserve tangible and intangible heritage resources, including living heritage and creative activities such as recordings and transcriptions. ICOM’s Committee for Museology (ICOFOM), as discussed by Desvallées and Mairesse (2010: 57), ‘acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and

246 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environ­ ment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment’. Carefully curated exhibitions, therefore, ought to function as discursive tools to create and disseminate particular knowledge and ideas. Yet even the most thoughtfully curated exhibits can endorse narratives that visitors perceive as representing an endorsement of cultural superiority or dominant political power structures. Anwar Tlili, a museum ethics researcher, argued that certain historical periods are often privileged or, alternatively, omitted through the exclusion of symbolic representations including place names, regional maps, artistic projects, installations, or particular voices or communal experiences (2008). Despite museum practices that require professional staff to deliberately contemplate notions of communal inclusion, representation and narration (Crooke 2007), some communities continue to consider themselves to be excluded from national museums. Kurdish communities encounter deep silences and complete omissions not only in museums throughout the Middle East but also in Western capi­ tals, with few exceptions. During the Baathist regime, which controlled Iraq after 1968, museums became symbolic tools to enhance the state’s legiti­ macy (Davis 1996: 90). Saddam Hussein invested heavily in state-sponsored nationalist cultural productions by creating the Museum of the Arab Baath Socialist Party and the Custom and Folklore Museum, for instance (97–8). Such national museums had by the 1980s come to represent deeply contested spaces as Arab nationalists aimed to expand the state’s social control by sup­ pressing unauthorised cultural expressions by Shia and Kurdish communi­ ties. Up until the fall of the Baathist regime in 2003, the mission of museums in Iraq had been focused on producing a unified national culture that centred on Arab nationalism. Today, several small ethnographic and commemorative Kurdish muse­ ums exist in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, including in the capital city of Erbil (Hewlêr) and regional cities and towns such as Sulaimani (Slemani), Dohuk (Dahūk) and Halabja (Helepce). The Kurdish Textile Museum in the historic Citadel in Erbil (Qalat Hewlêr) may be among the best-known museums in the Kurdistan region. Unfortunately, the Textile Museum struggles to maintain its collection because of ‘the lack of a long-term strategic plan by the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government]

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  247 to conserve traditional Kurdish crafts through subsidies and other protective measures’ (Levkowitz 2019). Kurdish authorities in Slemani maintain the so-called Red Museum or Amna Suraka Prison Museum in the former building of the Iraqi intelligence service, the feared Mukhabarat. Kurdish prisoners experienced dreadful tor­ ture in its dungeons and were executed in this location until March 1991. Kamran Omar, a regional Kurdish artist, was commissioned by Kurdish authorities to cast a series of life-sized statues of prisoners depicted in vari­ ous torture positions (Weinberger 2009). Recordings of actual interrogations frequently accompany the gruesome exhibits. Local populations rarely visit these exhibits today. Also well-known are the Halabja (Helepce) Museum and the Martyrs Monument and Cemetery, which are state-led and publicly funded sites (Figures 12.1–12.6). They focus on commemorating Saddam Hussein’s Kurdish victims during the Anfal (Spoils) and Halabja poison gas attacks. The memorial opened in 2003 on the outer periphery of the town of Halabja and served to remind visitors of the Iraqi dictator’s chemical attacks in 1988. While the Halabja memorial museum has received significant international attention, local Kurdish populations felt increasingly aggrieved by the instrumentalisa­ tion of their suffering during the Baathist dictatorship (Rubin and Faizullah 2006). Kurdish residents of Halabja continued to experience deep practices of corruption as they failed to benefit from any investment in the local infra­ structure. For nearly two decades Halabja’s roads and buildings looked as if they had just been destroyed by the Hussein regime, while foreign dignitaries visited the Halabja Museum and the Martyr’s Monument without entering the actual town. In 2006, enraged Halabja residents stormed the museum and set it on fire, destroying it completely. The destruction of the monuments and the museum’s collection highlighted the level of outrage local communities felt towards regional authorities, who were accused of being more concerned with showing off a commemorative museum than actually assisting popula­ tions who had survived the genocide (Rubin and Faizulla 2006). Following these events, Kurdish regional authorities began to invest in road and home construction, and improve communal access to clean water and healthcare. The Halabja memorials and the museum were reconstructed a few years later. The Duhok Art Gallery, founded in 1998 by the Directorate of Culture,

248 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y

Figure 12.1  The Halabja Museum commemorates the Kurdish suffering and resistance during the Baathist dictatorship. Photograph by the author, 2016

Figure 12.2  A Halabja Museum display that commemorates the Kurdish genocide: on 16 March 1988, Iraqi aircraft dropped chemical weapons on the population in and around Halabja, killing 5,000 Kurds and injuring thousands more. Photograph by the author, 2016

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  249

Figure 12.3  Visitors to the Halabja Martyrs’ Cemetery encounter this sign at the entrance. Photograph by the author, 2016

Figure 12.4  Inside the Martyrs’ Cemetery, this mass grave commemorates the loss of 1,500 unidentified victims/martyrs. Photograph by the author, 2016

250 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y

Figure 12.5  Individual markers for identified Kurdish martyrs in the cemetery. Photograph by the author, 2016

features regional art but is less well-known among Kurdish activist groups. As a recipient of limited state funding the art gallery has improved its abil­ ity to sponsor Kurdish artists, and private donors increasingly attempt to address some of its financial problems (Robinson 2019). In Qamişlo, Syrian

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  251

Figure 12.6  Statue of the Suffering Kurdish Woman/Mother overlooking the Martyrs’ Cemetery. Photograph by the author, 2016

Kurdistan, another small and privately supported museum, which opened five years ago, displays collections that educate community members about customs and farming practices once dominant in the region. This museum opens just a few days in the week. In general, Kurds find that they are

252 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y excluded from national and regional museums, even if they are maintained by state authorities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In Iran, Turkey and Syria, Kurdish communities continue to encounter significantly more profound layers of repression and cultural destruction. To overcome their omission, members of the Kurdish diaspora across the world occasionally organise community-sponsored Kurdish exhibits. For example, a specialised tribal art and textile display titled ‘Silver Sounds: An Exhibit of Kurdish Village Jewelry’, was held in 2001, in the private home of Vera Saeedpour, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Saeedpour, the founder of the former Kurdish Museum and Library, also produced a photographic collection in the mid-1980s under the title ‘The Kurds: An Endangered People’. Small Kurdish community-based exhibits have also been organised by members of diaspora communities in Stockholm, London and Berlin. Major national museums such as the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, or the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, of course, showcase spectacular Mesopotamian collections. But their exhibits obscure the existence of Kurds by vaguely referring to amorphous tribes or focusing exclusively on narrations related to Assyrian, Chaldaean, Armenian Christian and Jewish communities. Mesopotamia, of course, is largely situated in today’s Republic of Iraq and considered the birthplace of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian civilisations. The region was dominated by Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Mongolians and Ottomans prior to the arrival of the British, and only in 1932 did Iraqi independence become a reality. Modern Iraq’s populations are a mélange of diverse ethnic communities including Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Shabaks, Turkmens and Yezidis, among many others. Museological silences related to particular communities including the Kurds – Shabak communities can include Kurds, and some Yezidis claim Kurdishness while others prefer to identify themselves as Yezidi only2 – have contributed to the erasure of par­ ticular social, cultural and collective memories among disempowered tribal and ethnic communities. Kurdish experiences of state violence and cultural erasure have undermined trust in state institutions and identified museums as tools of cultural repression (Ghaidan 2008: 91–3; Huot 2008: 22). Kurdish cultural activists suggest that museum administrators in major Western capi­

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  253 tals continue to express little enthusiasm or even familiarity with the diverse voices of Kurds (Participant #36). Professional museological practices that focus on ordering and privileging particular knowledge can therefore be interpreted by Kurds as challenging the authenticity and validity of lived experiences by minority, immigrant and dias­ pora communities, ‘for whom no museums or collections have ever existed’ (Participant #28). Bernadette Lynch (2014), a scholar of museum studies, proposed that minority cultures, including refugees and diaspora communi­ ties, can benefit from a museum’s attention, but frequently lack agency relat­ ing to the larger process of curating exhibitions, which persistently represent authoritarian legacies. Lynch has warned: ‘Despite the best intentions, the imposition of the institutions’ coercive authority places people . . . in the posi­ tion of being co-opted into supporting (often resentfully) the museum’s goals, while silencing any potential resistance or opposition’ (2014: 76). Kurdish Cultural Activism in the Diaspora Political activism among members of the Kurdish diaspora has had a long tradition. Kurds have emphasised a path to public recognition of a distinct Kurdish ethnicity which has included protections for its cultural expressions, advocating for language policies, removing naming restrictions for Kurdish children, and ending official censorship practices in public libraries. More recently, activists have focused on guarding communally held values, heritage practices and other markers of ethnic identities such as music or dance and have re-inscribed Kurdish communities with a sense of political conscious­ ness (in the diaspora and the homeland). Cultural activism, not unlike political consciousness-raising efforts, rep­ resents a form of resistance to the way in which Kurds have been framed by existing power structures, including as ‘terrorists’ and ‘uncivilised or backward people’. Kurdish cultural activists often blend multiple styles of artistic expression with political activism such as rap music, traditional group dances and graffiti, to ground their demands in socio-cultural interpretations of justice and practices of mobilisation for political change (Eccarius-Kelly 2010). Cultural activists focus on presenting their ethnic identity and culture in ways that are inconsistent with their lived experiences and allow for an unconstrained challenge to established norms or power structures. Artistic

254 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y expressions conceived through cultural activism allow for an intermingling of ideas, materials, sounds and spaces so that activist-artists intervene for the purpose of re-imagining, re-positioning or ridiculing the portrayal of communal behaviours, social interactions, political ideas, language use or gender-related customs. Since 2010, annual Kurdish film festivals have taken place in Berlin, featuring a variety of Kurdish artistic projects because they are censored or banned by Turkish authorities. This dichotomy creates ideal conditions for Kurdish documentarians and filmmakers to discuss their projects with an energised and aggrieved Kurdish diaspora audience in Berlin. Similarly, gal­ leries across the country have long partnered with Kurdish artists to display photographic exhibits, multi-media or video installations and collages so as to allow visitors to hear, feel and see fragments of Kurdish life. (In 2018, for example, the Kunstverein Hannover featured video installations that showed street scenes along with their sounds by Iraqi Kurdish artist Hiwa K.) On a more communal level, it is worth noting that Rojava Solidarity Committees have organised travelling photo exhibits (and fundraising) in support of women’s equality under the title ‘Rojava – Spring for Women’. The abovementioned examples clearly illustrate that diverse artistic expressions can frame particular political ideas for the purpose of (re)imagining Kurdishness in the diaspora as a liberated and emancipated state of being. Objections to the Kurdistan Museum Kurdish participants in this project had not been aware of the Kurdistan Museum until news sources reported details of the Libeskind design con­ cept. They expressed dismay that the entire process had been hidden from the Kurdish public and therefore lacked transparency and legitimacy. Some of the artists rejected the museum as ‘a prestige project’ envisioned by the powerful leaders of the Barzani tribe and argued that it ‘should have been more inclusive in its original inception’, especially since it was meant to ‘offer space for all peoples of Kurdistan’ (Participants #31 and 33). Other activists asked who might be in a position to ‘select the collections that would be displayed’, while others criticised the fact that ‘Kurdish architects had not been approached’ to design a museum (Participants #33, 38 and 45). The diaspora activist-artists expressed profound levels of suspicion about

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  255 the underlying motivation for the Kurdistan Museum in Erbil and questioned its larger educational mission. Was the museum intended for the public or was it a mere sign of patrimonialism, since elite groups controlled most state institutions and relied on a massive public sector to co-opt the population? Luca Peyronel, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Milan, suggested that Kurdish authorities do not pay close enough attention to the educational missions of museums (Nawzad 2018). In addition, he argued that the opening hours of (archaeological) museums are so restrictive that few members of the public have an opportunity to enter them (most museums open for just a few hours during the week and tend to be closed on holidays and weekends when the public would be more inclined to visit them). Since the late 1930s, cultural institutions throughout Iraq have either pro­ moted fine arts collections cherished in the West to prove the value of Iraq’s civilisational contributions, or have emphasised nationalist ideologies linked to a unified past by fusing diverse ethno-linguistic and confessional groups into one cohesive narrative (Davis 1996: 95). It is no surprise, then, that dias­ pora Kurds emphasise the notion of liberating Kurdish history from colonial narratives and frame the secretive nature of the planned Kurdistan Museum as having intensified their distrust about obscure intentions (Participants #45 and 50). In addition, they argued that Kurdistan Iraq’s leadership has benefited from close economic and political ties with neighbouring Turkey, which made the museum a ‘veiled neo-colonial project requiring Turkish approval’ (Participant #50). The lack of transparency in the design process (and potential funding for it) appeared to indicate ‘enhanced elitist concep­ tions rather than grassroots participation that would promote a process of democratization’ (Participants #33 and 38). Others wondered whose contributions would be selected for the museum project (which was not addressed by the architectural firm). Kurds from Iraq, Iran and Syria have dominated artist groups in the diaspora, and Kurds originating from Turkey have been perceived by these circles as being less familiar with the arts. This has created a layer of tensions in Kurdish activist circles (Participant #28). In addition, Kurdish women have expressed deep concern that the ‘patriarchal context in Kurdistan Iraq’ could lead to the surreptitious exclusion of women’s contributions in the Kurdistan Museum

256 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y (Participants #30 and 32). Sharzad Mojab (2001: 48) has long noted such patterns in stating that Kurdish ‘women today face a host of obstacles such as the patriarchal policies of Kurdish nationalist parties, the misogynism of Islamic groups, the political oppression of central governments, continuing war, and a largely disintegrated economy and society’. Others believed that the lack of public discourse in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq would likely reduce the voices and narrations in the museum. Would Yezidis be excluded if they did not fall in line with dominant Kurdish politi­ cal discourses? The Kurdistan Museum should embrace and tell the story of ‘the interconnectedness between regional populations’, as could be expected of a transformative public space (Participant #39). Marginalised communities, including diaspora communities, refugees and indigenous populations, demand more control over how they are pub­ licly represented in museum exhibits (McGee 2006). Today’s museums are expected to do more than simply contemplate communal inclusion; they must collaborate with communities to question existing historical and cul­ tural narratives. Newly envisioned national museums such as the Kurdistan Museum in Erbil and the reconstructed Halabja Museum and the Martyrs Monument and Cemetery require transparency to end practices that con­ tinue to privilege colonial representations or elitist curatorial practices. The re-production of longstanding omissions and silences for political reasons, this time perpetrated by Kurdish elites in Kurdistan Iraq, fails to break with existing patterns of paternalistic thinking, co-optation and corruption. Curating a Kurdish Museum Diaspora communities such as the Kurds have long maintained cultural, political and economic relationships with their brethren beyond state bor­ ders. Often living in permanent exile (or accepting citizenship in former host societies), they construct their identities in relation to particular historical and political moments that shape their communal experiences (Cohen 1997). In essence, the Kurdish experience of involuntary dispersal has intensified the desire to control and also re-produce particular narrations for a broader public. During the interviews, several participants explained that particular political moments have enraged, inspired and compelled them to fully engage in transnational or homeland-oriented cultural activism. Among the most

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  257 significant moments that diaspora artists highlighted was the genocide com­ mitted by Islamic State (ISIS) against Yezidis; the broader assaults by ISIS against Kurdish communities in Iraq and Syria; the brutality of the Turkish government towards Kurds over decades; and the Anfal attacks carried out by Saddam Hussein’s regime, which culminated in large-scale displacements, chemical assaults and genocide (Ghaidan 2008: 91–2). Kurdish diaspora communities have long been of interest to diaspora scholars since Kurds established highly politicised and often competing politi­ cal structures abroad to support Kurdish movements in homeland regions (Başer 2018; Demir 2012; Eccarius-Kelly 2002). Kurdish cultural expressions relating to their ethnic identity, by contrast, have not been studied extensively, yet also provide insights into how diaspora groups reflect on, narrate and manage their own representations of culture, identity and history. The follow­ ing ideas for exhibits proposed by Kurdish activist-artists indicate that some diaspora Kurds perceive themselves as cultural ambassadors, as they express a deeply felt responsibility to protect against the loss of communal knowledge. Others emphasise narratives of multi-generational experiences of suffering as a means of addressing Kurdishness. While a forceful movement relating to the struggle for Kurdish cultural revival has not yet emerged, diaspora members are grappling with how best to prevent the erasure of Kurdish heritage and language. Expressions of Kurdishness in the diaspora therefore undergo a continual process of re-imagination and re-creation, and produce hybridised cultural notions that are ready to be inscribed on receptive communities. Participants in this project discussed a deep sense of emptiness once they reflected on the state of Kurdish cultural representations in national museums in the homeland and the diaspora. Some stated that exploring how they would envision and portray Kurdishness (within a space of their own design) was a challenge. Claims to Kurdishness, in this context, enforced clear boundaries aimed at separating Kurds from religious Sunni Arabs and Turks, Iranian Shi’ites and others, whose cultural practices or political mindsets were framed as repressive. For example, a self-identified Yezidi Kurd mentioned that Arabs could never be trusted since he believed that many collaborated with ISIS by targeting their former Yezidi neighbours in Sinjar (Participant #39). To tell the story of the Yezidi genocide, he continued, would ‘require a focus on this betrayal’.

258 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y Throughout all regions of Kurdistan, Kurdish communities have experi­ enced an escalation of hostility and persecution. Human rights and economic conditions for Kurds are precarious at best, as violations limit political free­ doms and civil liberties, and, in some regions, the ability to sustain com­ munal life. Diaspora activists remain committed to supporting populations in the homeland, but for many the emphasis has once again shifted to more surreptitious work to ensure the safety of family members, friends and allies within the boundaries of Kurdistan. The realities of daily life in Kurdish communities have deteriorated dramatically since 2014. The Turkish regime expanded its state of emergency and initiated vast anti-democratic purges against Kurdish communities and their political representatives following a 2016 coup attempt against President Erdoğan. In 2018, Turkish forces entered Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan to destroy the Kurdish autonomy movement across the border. Clashes between vari­ ous Kurdish insurgent groups and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards also intensified during this time period. While some forms of Kurdish cultural ­expression – especially within the realm of literary activities – are permitted in Iranian Kurdistan, critical political and cultural engagement leads to arrest, detention and execution. In Iraqi Kurdistan, the September 2017 independence referendum back­ fired, and Baghdad moved troops into the city of Kirkuk, taking control of lucrative oil fields that once fuelled an economic boom in the Kurdistan region. In light of these trends, diaspora Kurds can open up small windows into how activist-artists narrate their own cultures, identities and histories by curating a museum. Some of the proposed exhibits enhance our understand­ ing of Kurdish national identities in the absence of a unified nation-state. The following proposals for museum exhibits allow for complete freedom of imagination, and the displays have been shaped without direct concerns for political realities (or particular types of censorship), which typically constrain expressions of Kurdishness. By examining the imaginary spaces and displays that diaspora activist-artists propose, we can learn how museums could ­grapple more effectively with how marginal communities define and narrate their own heritage and culture. Many participants linked their personal and collective historical expe­ riences to specific exhibits. While they struggled to define what authentic

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  259 Kurdishness should mean in the context of a museum, Kurds acknowledged that many diverse visual installations or soundscapes could help to contextu­ alise it. For some participants, a claim to authenticity was linked to the past in the sense of acknowledging shared pain. Some relied on politicised narra­ tives and cultural repertoires (symbols and culturally meaningful behaviours such as dancing) to distinguish themselves from other Kurds, who were ‘not real Kurds’ or ‘lacked the consciousness to accept their Kurdishness’ because of particular religious or political affiliations (Participant #40). While most artists embraced a more restrictive interpretation of Kurdish identity and authenticity, many also focused on guarding indigenous cultural and artistic expressions. In narrative exhibits, displays of antiquities or models of fortifications, citadels and early settlements were privileged so that a Kurdish-centred civi­ lisational story could be told. Several participants suggested a large hall that would place Kurdish populations at the core of Mesopotamia, which they determined to represent the cradle of civilisation. ‘The Kurds are an ancient people of the Middle East’, one participant stated, proposing that it would be essential to contextualise the Kurdish heritage within a broader historical narrative from early times to today (Participant #40). Documenting and preserving Kurdish culture and highlighting architectural marvels (such as the citadel of Erbil in Kurdistan Iraq and Diyarbakır’s old neighbourhoods in the largest Kurdish city in Turkey) were emphasised by several participants. For example, participants recommended establishing archival collections for scholarly research and educational displays to increase access to information and to teach about traditional trades and cultural practices. When this author suggested that Studio Libeskind had acknowledged a similar idea by placing the Kurdistan Museum next to the citadel in Erbil, the activist-artists rejected that notion. Instead, they explained that access to archival collections had always been restricted by powerful elites and that a process of ‘democratiz­ ing knowledge’ could only take place without elite agendas. ‘Just because Libeskind was commissioned to do the design, it doesn’t mean that the existing power structure changed’, the author was warned (Participants #29 and 46). One participant remarked that ‘the homeland nourishes the emotional needs of the diaspora and we in turn support Kurdistan . . . it is a living

260 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y connection, like a pulse, that must be felt in a Kurdish museum’ (Participant #40). Activist-artists involved in re-producing and preserving Kurdish cul­ tural traditions, focused their exhibit ideas on folkloric expressions, including songs, group dances, and musical performances with traditional instruments. Several participants mentioned the importance of dengbêj performances, which are recital songs performed by singer-poets at communal celebrations and gatherings. A particular participant stated that ‘dengbêj songs allow you to learn about your past and appreciate your connection to the natural envi­ ronment’ (Participant #50), referencing an interwoven and mythical relation­ ship between folkloric Kurdish traditions and nature (Hamelink 2016: 297). One of the artists remarked that ‘we already see so much violence and how difficult it is for Kurds. We know Kurds are suffering and dying. I need to listen to beautiful songs and learn about life stories through music’ (Participant #42). He also highlighted that female dengbêjs had performed frequently in the past, but ‘that the repression of Kurdish culture by the regional powers made Kurdish people forget that women had also memorised and recited songs’. Hamelink’s (2016) study confirmed that female dengbêjs had experienced practices of silencing within communities under siege. A growing nationalist Kurdish consciousness in the 1980s and 1990s, however, allowed some women dengbêjs to claim a higher status. Some women man­ aged to link their singing abilities to a political environment that embraced resistance and gender equality (Hamelink 2016: 218–30). Other participants emphasised acrylic and oil painting, filmmaking and photography, and claimed a long literary tradition. The preservation of litera­ ture and literary contributions was emphatically highlighted during the inter­ views. Several participants felt strongly about affirming that Kurdish literary traditions were not exclusively reliant on oral practices. Others asserted a position of cultural strength by rejecting attempts to devalue Kurdish culture through claims that it was exclusively folkloric and oral in nature (Günersel 2014; Davis 1996). To counter long-standing discriminatory practices by regional authorities defining Kurds as ‘backward and with an inferior lan­ guage’, some activist-artists proposed displays of extensive book collections, bookstores, or libraries as part of Kurdish exhibits or museums similar to the Kurdish Library and Museum in Stockholm (Participants #34 and 35). In one exhibit, it was suggested that videotaped Kurdish-speaking community

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  261 members narrate their life stories. One artist stated that ‘just because you don’t see our art installations in museums, it doesn’t mean that we can’t show Kurdish paintings or sculptures to the public’, suggesting that access can be denied because of museological preferences for less political art (Participant #34). Some activist-artists stressed linkages between Alevis, Armenians, Assyrians and Yezidis, for example, because ‘our souls have been touched by blood. Every poor Alevi and Kurd has suffered; every mother lost a son. Now the screams of Yezidis fill the air as the newest genocide tries to erase our heritage’ (Participant #37). Another participant thought that a new form of oppression could occur if Kurdish exhibits failed to incorporate different ethnic groups that also had lived throughout Kurdistan. ‘The more we can learn about who we are as Kurds, the more we have to realise that many dif­ ferent influences have shaped Kurdistan. To claim otherwise is to be like the repressor AKP [Turkish] government’, stated another participant (Participant #51). In essence, all the participants were motivated to curate an exhibit free of long-standing patterns of manipulative or humiliating representations. Frequently, the participants’ understanding of their own Kurdishness was defined in opposition to other ethnic or religious communities. Most argued in favour of re-imagining Kurdish histories in museum exhibits through visual and audio installations. No consensus emerged, however, as to where Kurdish museum exhibits should be permanently housed or displayed. Among the locations that received support were Cologne, Germany; Hasankeyf, along the Tigris River in Batman Province, Turkey; and Erbil, since it represented the largest city in Iraqi Kurdistan. Finally, one participant suggested that there should be a travelling exhibition about Kurds in the diaspora aimed at reaching wider audiences. Several participants thought it was ludicrous to create a single Kurdistan Museum since there would never exist one unified homeland for all Kurdish communities. PM Barzani’s effort to take control of the Kurdish cultural revival, therefore, was seen as a way of reproducing patriarchal attitudes that could assist in the expansion of the Barzanis’ sphere of influence in the region. A noteworthy difference between earlier interviews conducted with non-elite diaspora Kurds (with familial connections to Turkey) were their

262 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y ­ references for a more visceral sense of ethno-nationalism than the groups p of artists discussed in this chapter. A high number of non-elite diaspora Kurds focused their exhibit ideas on Kurdish collective memories of pain and suffering and showed deep respect or admiration for various forms of resistance against state repression (Eccarius-Kelly 2015). Kurdish diaspora activist-artists interviewed for this chapter, however, made no mention of honouring guerrillas or displaying images of Kurdish martyrs. Instead, they preferred to exhibit high-culture products that would be displayed alongside aesthetic folkloric expressions, including traditional song and music, poetry, and vernacular practices. Others mentioned that the use of soundscapes, video installations and recorded story-telling events would be essential contributions. Concluding Thoughts In Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, state-sponsored cultural institutions empha­ sise a unified story of nationhood rather than accounting for diverse ethnolinguistic and religious communities. In fact, visitors to national museums in Turkey, for example, would be hard pressed to find any evidence of Kurds other than as perpetrators of terrorist violence against a legitimised state apparatus (Eccarius-Kelly 2019: 5–7). While Kurdistani authorities in Iraq created new museums after the fall of the Baathist regime in 2003, Kurdish publics have had little influence over their educational missions, geographic locations or specific depictions of historical events. The 2006 attack on and burning of the Halabja Museum by local residents was just one manifestation of deep anger related to the instrumentalisation of Kurdish suffering for international political purposes. In the global diaspora, Kurdish activist-artists are well aware that muse­ ums continue to be misused to erase Kurdish heritage and culture throughout the region. It may not be surprising, then, that even in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, museological narratives tend to advance particular ideological posi­ tions that are beneficial to Kurdish elites. State-led cultural institutions rarely emphasise educational efforts for local Kurdish communities. In response, diaspora Kurds reflect on how they can prevent the further destruction or manipulation of Kurdish culture and heritage. Participants in this imaginary Kurdish museum project demonstrated a growing recognition that the dias­

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  263 pora can play a significant role in guarding, constructing and re-imagining Kurdish cultural representations throughout the MENA region as well as in the European and North American diaspora. Finally, museums in liberal democracies serve the public as cultural and educational institutions, which also have made their relationships with diaspora, refugee and indigenous communities increasingly thorny. Should national museums try to curate the occasional activist exhibit or simply stay away from emerging political challenges? The answer, of course, relates to each museum’s specific mission, geographic location and political climate, which shape its work. Yet museums are also expected to surprise, engage and inspire new publics, which can be achieved by integrating omitted and silenced communities such as the Kurds. Museums should encourage pro­ found societal change by granting space and voice to those for whom no collections exist. ‘I dream of walking into a national museum, any major museum really, and find[ing] something officially identified as Kurdish in it. Pottery perhaps or clothing, maybe just a photograph? I have visited all these museums and I ask myself: Who am I? Do I even exist?’ (Participant #35). List of Included Interview Participants Participant #28: male, Syrian-Kurdish background. Participant #29: male, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #30: female, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #31: male, Turkish-Kurdish background. Participant #32: female, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #33: male, Turkish-Kurdish background. Participant #34: female, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #35: female, Turkish-Kurdish background. Participant #36: male, Syrian-Kurdish background. Participant #37: female, Syrian-Kurdish background. Participant #38: male, Turkish-Kurdish background. Participant #39: male, Iraqi-Yezidi background. Participant #40: male, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #42: male, Turkish-Kurdish background. Participant #45: male, Iraqi-Kurdish background.

264 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y Participant #46: male, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #50: male, Iraqi-Kurdish background. Participant #51: male, Turkish- and Syrian-Kurdish background. Notes 1. This project received IRB approval, ensuring that participants cannot be identi­ fied directly or through identifiers in the collected data. 2. A long-standing disagreement has existed within Yezidi and among Kurdish communities as to whether Yezidis should be identified as ethnically Kurdish or whether they form an entirely distinct ethnic group. According to Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski, The Last Girl (2017), many Yezidis consider Yezidism an ethnic and a religious identity. See also Christine Allison, The Yezidi Oral Tradition in Iraqi Kurdistan (2001).

Bibliography Allison, Christine (2001), The Yezidi Oral Tradition in Iraqi Kurdistan, Mitcham, Surrey: Curzon Press. Andreassen, Rikke (2016), Human Exhibitions: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Ethnic Displays, New York: Routledge. Ashley, Susan (2014), ‘A Museum of Our Own’, in Laurence Gouriévidis (ed.), Museums and Migration: History, Memory, and Politics, New York: Routledge, pp. 153–63. Başer, Bahar (2018), ‘Homeland Calling: Kurdish Diaspora and State-building in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in the Post-Saddam Era’, Middle East Critique, 27, 1: 77–94. Bayir, Derya (2013), ‘Representation of the Kurds by the Turkish Judiciary’, Human Rights Quarterly, 35, 1: 116–42. Bookchin, Debbie (2018), ‘How my Father’s Ideas Helped to Create Democracy for the Kurds’, New York Review of Books, 15 June. Cohen, Robin (1997), Global Diasporas: An Introduction, Seattle: University of Washington Press. Crooke, Elizabeth (2007), Museums and Community: Ideas, Issues and Challenges, New York: Routledge. Davis, Eric (1996), ‘The Museum and the Politics of Social Control in Modern Iraq’, in John R. Gillis (ed.), Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 90–104.

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  265 Demir, Ipek (2012), ‘Battling with Memleket in London: The Kurdish Diaspora’s Engagement with Turkey’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 38: 815–31. Desvallées, André, and François Mairesse (2010), Key Concepts of Museology, Paris: Armand Colin. Eccarius-Kelly, Vera (2002), ‘Political Movements and Leverage Points: Kurdish Activism in the European Diaspora’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 22: 91–118. Eccarius-Kelly, Vera (2010), ‘Nationalism, Ethnic Rap and the Kurdish Diaspora’, Peace Review, 22: 423–31. Eccarius-Kelly, Vera (2015), ‘The Imaginary Kurdish Museum: Ordinary Kurds, Narrative Nationalisms and Collective Memory’, Kurdish Studies 3: 172–91. Eccarius-Kelly, Vera (2019), ‘Critical Ethnography: Emancipatory Knowledge and Alternative Dialogues’, in Bahar Baser, Mari Toivanen, Begum Zorlu, and Yasin Duman (eds), Methodological Approaches in Kurdish Studies, London: Lexington Books, pp. 3–20. Eidheim, Harald, Ivar Bjørklund, and Terje Brantenberg (2012), ‘Negotiating with the Public: Ethnographic Museums and Ethnopolitics’, Museum and Society, 10: 95–120. Ghaidan, Usam (2008), ‘Damage to Iraq’s Wider Heritage’, in Peter G. Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly (eds), The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, pp. 85–96. Günersel, Tank (2014), ‘The Rise of Kurdish Literature’, Sampsonia Way, 26 September, (last accessed 16 February 2019). Hamelink, Wendelmoet (2016), The Sung Home: Narrative, Morality, and the Kurdish Nation, Leiden: Brill. Huot, Jean-Louis (2008), ‘The Importance of Iraq’s Cultural Heritage’, in Peter G. Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly (eds), The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq, Woodbridge: Boydell Press, pp. 19–24. Jeffers, Carol (2003), ‘Museum as Process’, The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 37, 1: 107–19. Karp, Ivan, Corinne A. Kratz, Lynn Szwaja, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto (2006), Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Kurdistan Memory Programme,­ tan-museum/ (last accessed 20 February 2019).

266 | vera ecca ri us - k e l l y Levkowitz, Joshua (2019), ‘Memory, Conflict and Carpets in Iraqi Kurdistan’, Middle East Institute, 7 February, (last accessed 11 March 2019). Lynch, Bernadette (2014), ‘Whose Cake Is It Anyway?’, in Laurence Gouriévidis (ed.), Museums and Migration: History, Memory, and Politics, New York: Routledge, pp. 67–80. McGee, Julie L. (2006), ‘Restructuring South African Museums: Reality and Rhetoric within Cape Town’, in Janet Marstine (ed.), New Museum Theory and Practice, Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 178–99. Mojab, Sharzad (2001), ‘The Politics of “Cyberfeminism” in the Middle East: The Case of Kurdish Women’, Race, Gender and Class, 8, 4: 42–61. Murad, Nadia, and Jenna Krajeski (2017), The Last Girl, New York: Tim Duggan Books. Natali, Denise (2005), The Kurds and The State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey and Iran, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Nawzad, Kosar (2018), ‘Few Locals See Kurdistan’s Easily-viewed Archaeological Treasures’, Kurdistan24, 11 November, (last accessed 10 March 2019). Neuendorf, Henri (2016), ‘Libeskind Studio to Build Kurdish Museum in Northern Iraq’, ArtNetNews, 12 April, (last accessed 10 March 2019). Ramzy, Nelly Shafik (2010), ‘From Modernism to Postmodernism: Philosophical Schools of Thought as Basis for Architectural Movements’, Shams Journal of Architectural Engineering, 2: 39–51. Robinson, A. C. (2019), ‘Duhok Gallery Gathers Kurdistan Artists Under One Roof’, Rudaw, 25 January, (last accessed 10 February 2019). Rubin, Amy, and Peshwaz Faizulla (2006), ‘Halabja, Iraq. Memorial to Gas Attack Victims Spurs Controversy’,, September, (last accessed 11 March 2019). Sandell, Richard (2003), ‘Social Inclusion, the Museum and the Dynamics of Sectoral Change’, Museum and Society, 1: 45–62. Simpson, Moira G. (2006), ‘Revealing and Concealing: Museums, Objects, and the Transmission of Knowledge in Aboriginal Australia’, in Janet Marstine (ed.), New Museum Theory and Practice, Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 152–77.

ku rd i sh di a spora a rti sts re f l e ct    |  267 Tlili, Anwar (2008), ‘Behind the Policy Mantra of the Inclusive Museum: Receptions of Social Exclusion and Inclusion in Museums and Science Centres’, Cultural Sociology, 2: 123–47. Vonk, Lilla (2013), Indigenous Peoples and Ethnographic Museums: A Changing Relationship, Östersund: The Nordic Centre for Heritage Learning. Weinberger, Jerry (2009), ‘A Visit to Saddam’s Chamber of Horrors’, City Journal, 14 May, (last accessed 11 March 2019) Yavuz, Hakan (2010), ‘Five Stages of Construction of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey’, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 7: 1–24.



ince June 2014, with the so-called ‘Islamic State’ organisation’s seizure of Mosul, Iraq, and subsequent declaration of a ‘caliphate’, ISIS has risen from regional terrorist network intent on the imposition of a para-state project to penultimate supervillain of the global imagination. ‘Islamic State’ captured not simply Mosul, but also the Internet era’s ‘attention economy’, and, in the process, strategically weaponised corporate media’s fundamental raison d’être: an interest in bottom-line profit margins that instantiate the maxim ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. To cite merely one example, media reports emerged of an ISIS edict mandating FGM for female residents of Iraqi ter­ ritory under the group’s control. Such content proved ripe for sensationalist coverage, and rapidly spread – a viral rumour that (regardless of evidence to the contrary) quickly obtained the states of absolute truth (or ‘as good as’) in the global court of public opinion (BBC 2014). More recently, heated debates over the proper jurisdictional and punitive mechanisms applicable to so-called ‘jihadi brides’ and other ISIS returnees continue to dominate global media headlines, inflame viral fear, and, ultimately, enable ISIS propaganda to further exert the organisation’s strategic mastery over persuasive manipula­ tion of public sentiment (Rogers 2019). Given the present global media ecology’s foundation on market consum­ 268

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  269 erism in which desires for sensationalism often supplant journalistic accuracy and in turn facilitate the uncritical acceptance and further dissemination of ISIS propaganda as prima facie evidence, a critical question bears considera­ tion: upon what is the historical record of so-called ‘Islamic State’ based? Thus far, academic work on ISIS and heritage has mostly focused on destruction and iconoclasm, specifically the two infamous campaigns at Palmyra, in Syria (2015–16), and Iraq’s Mosul Museum (February 2015). In part, this narrow focus arises from and produces misunderstandings of the group that rely on uncritical consumption of the very material ISIS has created for the express purpose of crafting and projecting desired perceptions of itself as the destroyer of ‘our civilisation’ for the world’s consumption (Doostdar 2014). ISIS destruction of art and cultural heritage is far from being confined to the realm of ancient artefacts and non-Muslim spaces of worship, but includes considerable sites of religious significance to both Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims (Lister 2017; The Guardian 2014).1 In fact, the overwhelming majority of ISIS’s architectural destruction aims to eradicate shrines and mosques specifically sacred to Islam (Romey 2015). And yet ISIS produces more images than it destroys. In this chapter, I consider that ISIS is a prolific generator of visual culture, especially its own, which functions as both a political and a cultural manifesto for the group. Consideration of ISIS’s vast array of cultural production, in which iconoclasm itself constitutes merely a fraction, offers a more nuanced approach to understanding the aims, actions and strategic successes of socalled ‘Islamic State’. Such material constitutes what I term the ‘ISIS Archive’: created, maintained, and disseminated not only by ‘Islamic State’ members and sympathisers, but also, and more troublingly, by unwitting opponents. I argue that the ‘ISIS Archive’ can be read as an ‘imagined museum’ that preserves and exhibits the group’s cultural, scientific and historical interests, while producing them at the same time. It is an infinite, ever-expanding, self-governing and self-generating museum that exists beyond the control of conventional curatorship and gives the group historical and genealogical bearings. Documentation, preservation and dissemination of ISIS, as well as its continued existence, unfold across the amorphous terrain of the Internet, a space in which opponents and supporters alike function as ‘curators’ actively engaged in the digital preservation of the archive’s raw matter. Each online

270 | ama nda r o ge r s reference to ISIS, whether a supportive Tweet, hyperbolic media headline or propaganda video, adds yet another entry to the ISIS Archive, an infi­ nite digital collection that underpins the imagined museum produced and sustained by new media’s fundamental governing logic, a strategic calculus indisputably mastered by ‘Islamic State’. Rather than an investigation of ‘cultural heritage’ as represented within the spaces of conventional museum studies, the present essay offers a novel, if provocative, perspective on the documentation, preservation and memo­ rialisation of ISIS’s ‘digital caliphate’ and transnational para-state project in the nebulous terrain and thorny jurisdictional liminality of the border­ less Internet. What constitutes the ‘Islamic State’ archive, if such an archive already exists? If it does, what implications arise for the global community whose borders the ISIS project presumes to transcend? Who compiles and consumes the ISIS Archive and how might the materials contained within this archive constitute an ‘imagined museum’ of sorts? For whom might such an imagined museum matter, and, compellingly, how? Theorising the ‘Islamic State’ Archive ‘Islamic State’ cannot – by definition – boast a museum in any conventional sense of the term, in part owing to the group’s territorial losses. Yet the more important reason ISIS lacks an institutional museum structure can be found in the organisation’s secondary, and ultimately thornier, front: the imagina­ tion. ‘Islamic State’ is also a viral idea – the utopian fever dream of supra­ national governance and statehood that transcends territory, a project that thrives in the complex environment of transnational digital networks where national sovereignty remains contested, and media platforms governed by economic incentives of profit – rather than governmental bodies – ­suddenly face the (presumed) burden of policing cultural production as well as political discourse (Gillespie 2018; Singer and Brooking 2018). Achille Mbembe emphasises the dual nature of ‘archive’ as a significa­ tion: both a materialised institution, ‘one of the organs of a constituted state’, and ‘a collection of documents. There cannot therefore be a definition of “archives” that does not encompass the building itself and the documents stored there’ (2002: 19). Mbembe’s concern for materiality (albeit for a predigital era) proves instructive in the case of ISIS; an archive’s physicality

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  271 ‘means that it is inscribed in the universe of the senses: a tactile universe because the document can be touched, a visual universe because it can be seen, a cognitive universe because it can be read and decoded’ (2002: 20). The tactile nature of an archive, then, confers ‘the status of proof . . . that a life truly existed, that something actually happened, an account of which can be put together. The final destination of the archive is therefore always situated outside its own materiality, in the story that it makes possible’ (Mbembe 2002: 21). Mbembe’s (2002: 22) emphasis on the archive’s role ‘as an instituting imaginary’ informs the theoretical architecture of this essay’s broader argument. Interrogating the fraught relationship that exists between the state and the archive, namely, attempts to censor or obliterate the historical record, Mbembe (2002: 23–4) contends: Some states have thought that they could do without archives. They have therefore attempted, either to reduce them to silence, or, in an even more radical manner, to destroy them. By doing this, they thought they could defer the archive’s ability to serve as proof of a suspect fragment of life or piece of time. More interested in the present and the future than in the past, they thought that they could shut down the past for once and for all so that they could write as if everything was starting anew . . . The power of the archive for all that has not been abolished. On the contrary, it has, rather, been displaced. Material destruction has only succeeded in inscrib­ ing the memory of the archive and its contents in a double register. On the one hand, in fantasy, inasmuch as destroying or prohibiting the archive has only provided it with additional content . . . the destroyed archive haunts the state in the form of a spectre, an object that has no objective substance, but which, because it is touched by death, is transformed into a demon, the receptacle of all utopian ideals and of all anger, the authority of a future judgement.

ISIS’s cultural entrepreneurs – whether on-ground producer or distant online ‘fanboy’ – function as historian/archivist, and ‘occupy a strategic position in the production of an instituting imaginary. One might ask what their role from now on may be, especially in contexts where the process of demo­ cratising a chronophagic act – that is, the abolition of the archive – is at

272 | ama nda r o ge r s an advanced stage’ (2002: 26). In ISIS’s mastery of Web 2.0’s interactive, platform technological frameworks, such as social media that demand partici­ patory and user ‘buy-in’, one sees the Janus face of democratisation discourse, in the most perverse extreme of logical conclusions (Rogers 2019). ISIS proves unquestioningly notorious for spectacular acts of iconoclastic destruction, but such strategically mediated operations deliberately mask and deflect from underlying strategic rationales. To speak of my own personal ISIS Archive, over four years of tracking and documenting official ‘Islamic State’ cultural production have culminated in numerous terabytes of ‘raw data’, none of which includes fanboy engagement or oppositional counterproduction (including global media’s content recirculation with very little, if any, censorship). Only one volume in my extensive personal collection includes material coded as ‘iconoclastic’, a total of 889 GB: 0.00048%. Rather, the vast majority of ‘Islamic State’ cultural production constitutes content intended to showcase ISIS’s ability to construct, create, build . . . to ‘remain and expand’, in the group’s own self-referential aphorism (Griffin 2016; Winter 2015; Zelin 2015). The fact remains: so-called ‘Islamic State’ is a prolific producer of cultural content, spanning from anasheed (a capella chants) released by in-house production studios and on-ground newspaper productions to the seemingly endless remixing and mimetic reproductions circulated by passive sympathisers. Rarely, however, is the thorny issue raised of recirculating ‘Islamic State’ content, or the manner in which such circula­ tions contribute to a growing archive that – detached from territory – maps precisely onto ISIS’s extra-territorial claims to limitless sovereignty. As Alireza Doostdar (2014) notes, ‘it is difficult to even say what ISIS is if we are to rely on anything beyond the group’s self-representations’. I cannot reiterate emphatically enough: propaganda’s influence on much of what we currently read and understand concerning the group (e.g. sup­ posedly ‘analytical research’) demands recognition. ‘Islamic State’ organisa­ tion is, if nothing else, composed of brilliant marketers. One senses here an additional media aphorism: ‘Any publicity is good publicity’. As I have previously argued, ‘The Beheading Series’ (serialised executions of Western journalists) was undoubtedly crafted, and expected, to spur public debates about censorship and the sharing of violent imagery, as well as the decision ‘to watch, or not to watch’ (Rogers 2018a). Media discussion of such ‘timely’

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  273 topics cycles ever onward and thus, following an additional PR maxim, keeps ISIS immediately relevant for a target audience. The pilot episode of Jim Foley’s execution, for example, indeed, sold the series – and reruns continue in ever-expanding circulation. In 1962, Daniel Boorstin issued a remarkably prescient lament about a rise of the ‘pseudo-event’ in American culture; the historian was particularly disturbed by a pervasive erasure of genre distinction between the spheres of entertainment and politics. Boorstin’s observation remains relevant today – if not more so – particularly in respect to media cycles in the wake of 24/7 news outlets. Political campaigns for the US midterm elections have capitalised on ISIS as a prototypical trope of the imminent, civilisational threat that necessi­ tates a strong leader, behind which citizens will feel ‘secure’. Such candidates included, among others, Allen Weh, Mitch McConnell and David Purdue. And so, the vicious circle continues in yet another loop – politics made into news, out of which the political is crafted, and reborn, once more, as ‘news’.2 It is no stretch to suggest that ISIS foresaw such possibilities, especially given the impact of Al-Qaeda video messages timed, and released, in conjunction with previous US elections. Further, like so many other techniques utilised by the organisation’s media strategy, expectations of such ‘self-replicating buzz’ reflects a key tip of viral marketing. Visceral imagery, and the viral spread of ‘Islamic State’ executions, even by those who abhor the organisation, bring to mind prescient theoretical cautions about participatory media and conflict capitalism issued by Gilles Deleuze and Jean Baudrillard. Deleuze noted (1992: 6): There is no longer a capitalism for production but for the product, which is to say, for being sold or marketed. Thus it is essentially dispersive, and the factory has given way to the corporation. The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge towards an owner . . . Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the centre or the ‘soul’ of the corporation . . . The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control.

Two years later Baudrillard observed: ‘Today what we are experiencing is the absorption of all virtual modes of expression into that of advertising’ (1994: 87). As ISIS harnesses the techniques of corporate PR, corporations,

274 | ama nda r o ge r s

Figure 13.1  ISIS’s execution videos remixed into BDSM-style titillation to promote a themed event at an Israeli gay club. Screengrab. Promotional image (now removed) for ‘Drekistan Night’, Facebook, September 2014. Screenshot taken by the author, 2014

in turn, dispense capital to promote Tweets, and thus utilise ISIS itself as the advertisement. ISIS-related advertisements run the gamut from bondage-style flyers for club nights to fast-food restaurants (Figs 13.1 and 13.2). Each ISIS production remixed and rereleased, whether by fan, opponent or mercenary entrepreneur, adds to the seemingly infinite – and growing – ISIS Archive. Across the nebulous, borderless terrain of a de-territorialised Internet, in a space of digital eternity outside temporal limits, ‘Islamic State’ maintains a powerful imaginary museum, curated by, and catering to, repeat visitors in search of both nightmares and utopian fever dreams. IS’s Transnational Parastate-paradox: Generating the Infinite Archive across the Borderless Internet To understand ISIS, one must first consider the complexity of the group. ‘Islamic State’ is not simply a terrorist organisation with territorial control as fundamental objective. Rather, ISIS is both a transnational para-state entity that claims for itself universal sovereignty and limitless jurisdiction, and, far more critically, an idea, the dream of the former, realised. In this sense, attempts to find analogous approaches to art and artefact with Taliban policies, for example, or the Iranian Revolution, prove limited. Unlike ISIS, the Taliban is an ethno-nationalist group with entirely different approaches to territorial

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  275

Figure 13.2  Jim Foley’s execution iterated for the promotion of ZBurger. Screengrab. Promotional Tweet (now removed) for ZBurger, Twitter, July 2018. Screenshot taken by the author, 2018

governance and religious ideology; little unites the two organisations beyond the abstraction of ‘militant Islam’ and singular, highly publicised, moments of spectacular iconoclasm. Nor does Iran offer useful parallels. The 1979 Revolution’s post-Shah approach to governmentality hinged on Ayatollah Khomenei’s operationalisation of Shia theological specificities, and remains, in collective memory, a fundamentally nationalistic endeavour.3 What renders ‘Islamic State’ unique – in political project and cultural

276 | ama nda r o ge r s production – is the group’s claim to transnational sovereignty, and the manner in which such an orientation intersects with the Internet’s inherent challenge to traditional nation-state jurisdiction. ISIS produces far more imagery than it destroys. Even the group’s documentation of performative iconoclasm ultimately constitutes imagery rendered for dissemination in the form of video’s moving images – quite a contradiction for a group hell-bent on the ostensible theological obligation to eradicate . . . imagery. Uncomfortable as the realisation may be, the fact remains: ‘Islamic State’ is an immensely creative and highly sophisticated organisation of image producers. Further, ISIS exploits the Internet as an ideal platform for the dissemination of prolific cultural production – a media strategy eerily reminiscent of Deleuze’s 1992 rejoinder to Foucault’s conception of disciplinary societies, superseded by ‘societies of control’.4 ‘Islamic State’ thrives in the Internet’s quintessential ‘society of control’ – where power, governmentality and capital now circulate in dispersive, liquid trajectories that transcend disciplinary societies’ spaces of enclosure and territorial anchors. The ‘ISIS Archive’ emerges from the Internet’s borderless terrain of convergence: a nexus of culture, capital and crisis in which ‘Islamic State’ thrives. ISIS, in fact, strategically crafts masterful branding, marketing and cultural production specifically for this profit-driven media ecosystem of viral sensationalism and powerfully affective content, where (again): ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ – a space beyond temporal and territorial limitation: an accelerated, ‘real’ time that collapses distance and enables the force-multiplier of threat projection (Rogers 2018b). Any attack, unexplained catastrophe or violent outburst instantly provokes speculation as to ISIS’s potential culpability, so readily has ‘Islamic State’ captured our collective imagination in the attention economy’s crowded, competitive market. Thus, even the hostage audience serves as complicit – knowingly or not – collectors, producers and curators for ISIS’s Archive of the Digital Infinite. Ongoing, crowd-sourced collection efforts document and disseminate ISIS’s history, existence and legacy, not by (and for) simply supporters, but also opponents – so total is the group’s monopoly over the attention economy and global imagination. In this manner, the ISIS Archive proves self-sustain­ ing, renders a physical museum unnecessary and, compellingly, replicates the very motto of ISIS’s transnational para-state: ‘remaining and expanding’.

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  277 ‘Islamic State’ has something much more powerful than the bricks and mortar of a museum: an archive firmly anchored in the i­magination – infinite, everexpanding, dispersed, dispersive and dispersing, digitally de-territorialised, detached from any singular jurisdiction, self-governing and self-generating in its proliferation and preservation, beyond the control of an individual (or indeed, collective) curator. Consider the following entry in ISIS’s Infinite Archive: a singular screen grab from the execution of James Wright Foley. Beyond the video’s initial release and circulation, endless re-circulations of mimetic content produced from this initial, grisly primary source remain in the public domain. The execution video ‘serves as a brand vehicle for Evil™, Islamic State’s corporate identity on the Western market, whose attention the organization desperately needs for a political legitimacy conferred through oppositional negation’ (Rogers 2018a: 5). Each additional iteration of the Foley execution video constitutes engagement with and dissemination of the ‘Islamic State’ brand identity – and an additional entry in the ISIS Archive. Security experts never tire of reminding the public that the threat posed by ‘Islamic State’ continues, despite (or, indeed, because of) the group’s terri­ torial losses (Byman 2018). ISIS must, we are told, be continually confronted and fought on the dual front of physical terrain and ideology. ISIS is no mere terrorist network or non-state armed group; ‘Islamic State’ is a concept, an idea. And it is here that we may locate the museum of the so-called ‘Islamic State’, a neoliberal fever dream (and/or nightmare) of cosmopolitan ­communalism: the imagination. Before unravelling complex entanglements at the heart of theorising ISIS’s Archive of the Digital Infinite, one must interrogate the stakes at play in the very question ‘what would an ISIS museum look like?’. This examina­ tion of predominant approaches to ISIS iconoclasm reframes critical debates surrounding both universalist discourses of ‘cultural heritage’ and museum genealogies (as well as incisive critiques thereof). I first contextualise my theo­ risation of the ISIS Archive within conventional approaches to the relation­ ship between ‘Islamic State’, art and ‘cultural heritage’, before I proceed in a diagonal (rather than parallel) analytic approach to the organisation’s engage­ ment with cultural production. In the process, I trace the vast contours of ISIS’s Archive, an expansive body of multi-media documentation preserved

278 | ama nda r o ge r s symbiotically by supporters and opponents alike, a process of crowd-sourced curation for the imagined museum of a ‘digital infinite’. Discursive Normativity: ISIS, Cultural Heritage and the Political Limits of Imagination Discussions about ‘Islamic State’s relationship to the art world consistently focus on issues relating to cultural destruction and/or preservation, includ­ ing artefact repatriation and restoration (Kanjou 2018; Lababidi and Qassar 2016; al-Quntar 2017), antiquities trade and terrorism financing (Fanusie and Joffe 2015; Grantham 2016), associated strategic motivations (Clapperton et al. 2017; Jones 2018), puritanical iconoclasm (Campion 2017; Whitley and Houston 2015) and appeals to (as well as critiques of) cultural herit­ age’s presumed universality (Vlasic and Turku 2016). Interpretations of IS artefact destruction as fundamentally ‘iconoclastic’ in motivation (i.e. ideo­ logical opposition to images) are, by now, readily accepted as common sense. Such explanations prove essentialist and limited and constitute paradigmatic approaches to ‘militant Islamism’ that demand challenge. Fewer in number, but ultimately far more insightful, are critical approaches that question assumptions about ‘universal’ cultural heritage, antiquities markets and preservation (Rico and Lababidi 2017), instead con­ textualising ISIS destruction campaigns within broader discussions of post­ colonial nationalism’s politicised archaeology and performative iconoclasm as weaponised propaganda tactic (De Cesari 2015; Flood 2016; Harmansah 2017).5 Compellingly, however, almost no academic literature or media cov­ erage to date engages with the thorny, loaded terrain of ‘Islamic State’ artistic or cultural production as primary – rather than tertiary – analytic focus. As Trinidad Rico notes, the very conception of ‘“risk”’ in heritage and the power that it is awarded’ necessarily demands that ‘one must also consider the constructed nature of this idea . . . as a result, “heritage at risk” acts as a rationalising vehicle for other agendas that go unchecked’ (2015: 147). Rico’s prescient caution that ‘the product of a threats-based approach . . . mobilizes heritage discourse and sets its priorities’ (2015: 148) constitutes, in fact, the precise reason for which I opt not to examine ISIS cultural destruc­ tion through the lens of heritage, preservation and iconoclasm, but instead deliberately shift my analysis beyond the literature’s paradigmatic focus

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  279 on heritage. Inquiries that undertake ISIS cultural production, rather than destruction, as fundamental aim and exclusive categorical focus, I suggest, ultimately reveal crucial aspects of the manner in which ‘Islamic State’ media producers aim to construct, shape, preserve and disseminate the very image desired by the group – one to which ‘we’ prove so often, and unwittingly, hostage force-multipliers. Perhaps, for example, the intention of narrative diversion or deflection constitutes a primary motivation for ISIS’s selective documentation and dissemination of highly publicised, hyper-mediated destructive iconoclastic performance (Fig. 13.3). Analysis of this diversionary impulse enables us to more precisely locate the group’s critical innovations, aims and strategic genius within deeper contextualisation of ISIS ‘propaganda’ as well as this persuasive material’s immensely influential impact. Productive engagement with the issue of ISIS image destruction necessitates jettisoning the ‘iconoclasm’ debate altogether, in favour of a focus on the organisation’s prolific cultural production. Consider for a moment the deep level of discomfort that accompanies the

Figure 13.3  A film documents destruction undertaken at the Mosul Museum, choreographed and edited for ready circulation on international media platforms. ISIS. ‘The Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice’, Wilayat Ninawa, February 2015. Screenshot taken by the author, 2015

280 | ama nda r o ge r s thought of a museum led by ISIS, the profound dislocation engendered by the task of envisioning the museum, implicitly associated with Enlightened ideals of universal humanity, the arts, and uplifting the public in the generalised ‘public interest’, produced by a group regularly (and justifiably) condemned from all corners of the globe as hell-bent on iconoclastic destruction in the name of puritanical, fanatical literalism. That such reactions are instantaneous is understandable, but what might we gain from pausing to contemplate and imagine potential answers? For the question itself, I contend, is not merely rhetorical, nor is it a task for which only the limitless imagination is equipped. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou’s seminal A Theory of ISIS: Political Violence and the Transformation of the Global Order (2018) consti­ tutes a watershed moment in the theorisation of ‘Islamic State’, which opens up numerous possibilities for investigations of IS cultural production and museum constructions in critical historical context. Mohamedou argues for a departure from understandings of ISIS as an inherently apocalyptic group motivated by theology, in favour of foregrounding the complex geopolitical entanglements which created the contingent conditions pre-requisite for the initial emergence of so-called ‘Islamic State’, paramount among them coloni­ alism and military intervention. Mohamedou’s work simultaneously constitutes a prescient critique of what Judith Butler terms ‘non-thinking in the name of the normative’ (2009: 137–64), calling attention to the dominance of security and terrorism discourses in ISIS-related work ‘limited to those exercises of dutifully, onedimensionally compiling information and data demonstrating the group’s violence, irrationality and dangerousness’ (2018: 10). This ‘straight-jacketing of the terrorism discussion’, Mohamedou maintains, ‘evidences a larger prob­ lem of the paternalism, chauvinism and Orientalism that sit atop security discussions of issues playing out in the Middle East and North Africa, and the wider Muslim world and sub-Saharan Africa’ (2018: 15). Such issues manifest in departure from the dominant narrative of all-encompassing evil: emphatic rejection and denunciation of controversial views ‘coloured as “angry” (particularly if it is voiced from the South)’, a teleological, discur­ sive production that depoliticises analysis, forecloses critical assessment and reproduces ‘a controlled process emptying the violence of its meaning and therefore enabling its circularity’ (Mohamedou 2018: 10–11).

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  281 I contend that ‘Islamic State’ thrives precisely within this stasis of hegem­ onic ‘War on Terror’ analysis, eager to further entrench, and exploit, the increasing acceptance of manufactured ‘Clash of Civilisations’ narratives pro­ duced by (and productive of) endless war. Mohamedou’s work proves central to the present essay’s speculative architecture and critical theorisation of the ISIS Archive. For this reason, it is worth quoting him at length: Following Edward Said, the literature on Al Qaeda and IS of the past 20 years can today already be assessed as mostly neo-Orientalist, for just as the original nineteenth-century Orientalism was not merely an ex post facto rationalisation of colonialism but worked to justify it in parallel, the current wave of commentary about ‘Al Qaeda/IS’ serves to normalise the accept­ ance of a narrative that depicts these groups as enemies of humanity beyond the pale, foes who need only be exterminated because of who they are culturally and religiously, eschewing or minimising larger political dynam­ ics and context. The silences in the terrorism text are, however, the text – a culturalist, inconsistent and exceptionalist one. (Mohamedou 2018: 16)

Here, one begins to view the deeper imbrications of museum genealogies and heritage discourses in which ‘Islamic State’ iconoclastic advertisement campaigns operate; more generally, Mohamedou’s critique provides insight into the ISIS project itself – specifically, the ‘Islamic State’ organisation’s fundamental reliance on an insidious mimetic inversion, a mirroring of ‘our’ own exceptionalist self-fashioning transmitted to the next generation through institutions of cultural memory that sustain intergenerational continuity of the (future) imagined community, as well as the imagined museum. Answers to the conditional question ‘what would an ISIS museum look like?’ necessitate an iconoclastic approach – in this case, a heretical avenue of inquiry that takes seriously not simply the question and possible response, but also the paradigmatic logics that render such a query inherently flammable. Responding to the Paris attacks of November 2015, Alain Badiou cautions against the traumatic paralysis of silence, which inevitably enables the domi­ nation of state and identitarian narratives over political solutions. Badiou characterises this ‘breaking of silence’ as an urgent task, asking ‘how, in these conditions, can we try to construct a different way of thinking? How can we tear ourselves away from all of this?’ (2016, 68). I reiterate an argument laid

282 | ama nda r o ge r s out in previous work on the subject of ‘religiously-motivated iconoclasm’: here, one must ‘escort art historiography out of the mausoleum-museum and reveal the political theatre of so-called “religious” terror, through the deployment of image and iconoclasm as both metaphor and analytical tool’ (Rogers 2011: 95). Conventional framing of ‘ISIS’ ascribes to the group an iconoclastic impulse as key motivation; such ‘understandings’ constitute a normative analytic paradigm in which now-naturalised assumptions function as expla­ nation. This is part of the reason our question so disturbs – one senses the deep discomfort in an invitation to conceptualise the group as anything other than wholly destructive, irrational actors of apocalyptic nihilism, monstros­ ity incarnate, what I term ‘Evil™’(Rogers 2018a). The limits of permissible thought within the nexus of academic/political/cultural orthodoxy preclude analysis of the broader ISIS phenomenon’s deeper significance – demanding a heretical approach, academic blasphemy, and a radically iconoclastic meth­ odology that takes ‘Islamic State’ not at face value, but seriously. Because of entrenched understandings and inherited logics of ‘the museum’, passed on through Enlightenment ideals championed as the foundation of modernity itself, Western academics often assume that ISIS iconoclasm proves explicable by way of violent opposition to ‘modernity’. Yet this web of pre­ conception and paradigmatic cultural logic contains hidden ­tensions between ‘civilizational’ narratives and notions of the aesthetic as transcendent vector of universal humanism (Winegar 2008).6 To pose questions of ISIS as anything beyond destructive and evil incarnate violates hegemonic discourse. Certainly, one may comment on the group’s state-building programmes, cultural and educational programmes (albeit only under the framing of indoctrination) and media machinery (contingent upon its framing as ‘slick propaganda appa­ ratus’), but one may meditate only momentarily on the automatic reaction to the juxtaposition of ‘ISIS’ and ‘museum’. As Judith Butler notes, ‘normative’ moral judgements are inherently conditioned and ‘tacitly regulated by certain kinds of interpretative frame­ works’ (2009: 41). In wartime, conflict sustains itself ‘through acting on the senses, crafting them to apprehend the world selectively’ (2009: 51–2). To raise latent questions about ‘Islamic State’ art is dangerously destabilising. The only ‘safe’ (read: seemingly neutral, albeit inherently politicised) way to

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  283 discuss art and aesthetics in the same breath as ‘Islamic State’ is to do so in the oppositional context of art as liberation (Associated Press 2017). What one might term ‘cultural production’ or even ‘mural’ in another ideological context is, in the case of ISIS, rendered as propaganda inherently designed to ‘brainwash’ (Engel 2015). ‘Islamic State’ certainly engages in spectacular acts of mediated icono­ clastic destruction, but as even a cursory survey of the group’s own cultural production reveals, the organisation is immensely creative (Winter 2015). Within the variegated machine of the ISIS media apparatus, ‘Islamic State’ production houses even issue paratextual advertisement campaigns, designed to contribute, at every turn, to the (searchable) Infinite Archive (Figs 13.4– 13.7). Acknowledgement of terminological relativity here, and of concomi­ tant, embedded political subjectivities, proves inescapable. In the production of post-9/11 grief, American media dared not criticise the Bush administration’s Iraq policy and risk the dislocation engendered by a shift in perspective that included state-sanctioned violence abroad. Noting that ‘affect depends on social supports’, Butler points out that regulation of public perception of ‘worthwhile’ life depends on sensory levels for its pro­ duction (2009: 16). In an analysis of Guantanamo Bay poetry censored by the Department of Defense, she critiques censorship of material that shatters ‘dominant ideologies that rationalize war through recourse to righteous invo­ cations of peace; they confound and expose the words of those who torture in the name of freedom’ (2009: 61). Dissent (particularly affective culture) places one far outside of what is delineated as appropriate citizen-subject behaviour. A central contention here is that any discussion of ‘archive’, ‘art’, or ‘museum’ with respect to ‘Islamic State’ produces instinctive retreat into what Mahmood Mamdani (2002; 2005) characterises as ‘culture talk’, a modality of ahistorical (non-) thought that attributes political affiliations to entrenched religious/cultural identities. In the years that have elapsed since Mamdani initially coined the term, culture talk’s position has been all but solidified within American political discourse, the globally mediated public culture of which has enabled ISIS to wield and weaponise such caricatures in the cun­ ningly crafted, Western-facing brand identity I have termed ‘Evil™’ (Rogers 2018a). This purposeful self-typecasting as ultimate anti-Western ­villain emerges clearly once we consider myopic discourses of ISIS iconoclasm and

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Figure 13.4  Here, hashtags direct readers of Dabiq magazine to Twitter feeds, in which the advertised nasheed (a capella music) video will appear, as locations via which to download an archival copy. ISIS. Advertisement, Dabiq magazine, Issue 9, Al Hayat, May 2015. Screenshot taken by the author, 2015

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Figure 13.5  Advertisement in Dabiq Magazine alerting readers to a multilingual radio station created by ‘Islamic State’, as well as the hashtag ‘Caliphate News’, to direct Twitter traffic towards other paratextual ISIS-affiliated material. ISIS. Advertisement, Dabiq magazine, Issue 9, Al Hayat, May 2015. Screenshot taken by the author, 2015

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Figure 13.6  Weekly newsletter of ‘Islamic State’, al-Nabā’, presents a report of recent media output, as well as information for consumers on where to find particular types of media. ISIS. Advertisement, al-Nabā’ weekly newsletter, Issue 6, November 2015. Screenshot taken by the author, 2015

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Figure 13.7  Weekly newsletter of ‘Islamic State’, al-Nabā’, presents a report of the publications released by ‘Islamic State’ publisher Al-Himma. ISIS. Advertisement, al-Nabā’ weekly newsletter, Issue 6, November 2015. Screenshot taken by the author, 2015

288 | ama nda r o ge r s the museum, in particular.7 What Winegar identifies as ‘the humanity game’ (2008) proves similarly operative in other spaces and institutions of cultural dialogue, such as the controversial Cordoba Initiative (Corbett 2017).8 I follow Talal Asad here (2007) and shift from consideration of the moral implications – in this case, of heritage preservation – to interrogate what the classification of ISIS iconoclasm as such has to teach us about the concerns, and crises, of the contemporary nation-state. Asad’s aim in On Suicide Bombing is ‘to disturb the reader sufficiently that he or she will be able to take a distance from the complacent public discourse that prepackages moral responses to terrorism, war, and suicide bombing’ (2007: 5). So controversial is Asad’s mere attempt at neutral theorisations that his book contains repetitive self-referential distancing from any moral endorsement of the actions (a rhetorical gesture absolutely necessary given the predominant paradigms governing and mandating acceptable speech parameters). This is even more powerfully resonant in the age of ISIS, where ‘material support’ is an increasingly vague and nebulous category. Asad’s repeated attempts to situate himself outside the realm of moral judgements unintentionally obfuscate some of the work’s most fundamental contributions, a point to which Butler calls attention in her consideration of discursive normativity, citizen-subjects and legitimate violence. She notes: ‘if we begin with the assumption that justified violence will be undertaken by certain kinds of states (those generally regarded as embodying principles of liberal democracy) . . . we have already built a certain political demographics into the definition of what might qualify as justified violence’ (2009: 156). Here, I heed Butler’s call to ‘open up those very demographic distinctions to critical analysis’ and ‘ask how it is that our conception of violence in both its justified and unjustified forms, has built into it certain preconceptions about what culture ought to be’ (2009: 156). Butler (2009: 156–7) argues that any reasoned assessment of conflict must reject the ‘ought to be’ of culture, in favour of examination ‘based on a field of description and understanding that is both comparative and critical in character’. Further, ‘coalition itself requires a rethinking of the subject as a dynamic set of social relations. Mobilizing alliances do not necessarily form between established and recognizable subjects . . . they may . . . be instigated by criticisms of arbitrary violence, the circumscription of the public sphere,

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  289 the differential of powers enacted through prevalent notions of “culture”’ (2009: 162). To speak of the coalitional here is critical, for ISIS is inseparable from the conditions of its possibility – a contingency of history. One needs only to think of the cliché ‘slick propaganda’, a trite phrase that has spawned endless articles on the ISIS media machinery’s Hollywood inspirations (Bond 2017). As I have argued elsewhere (2018: 3): Birthed a despised bastard from the Pax Americana’s illegitimate interven­ tion in Iraq, Islamic State’s insurgent start-up offers an insidiously novel – yet disturbingly familiar – alternative to established modalities of politi­ cal affiliation and social allegiance: a defiantly and conscientiously anti-­ American brand of (paradoxically) parochial-cosmopolitan citizenship. IS’ very name contains the conglomerate’s mission statement, and fundamen­ tal raison d’être: state.

ISIS does not sit ‘at the periphery of world politics but by acting precisely at its centre’ (Mohamedou 2018). The ultimate threat arises not from ‘violence (terroristic and obvious) but in the nature of the counter-order it is claiming to uphold. The post-modernity it is representing lies at once in that aspect, as well as in the pursuit of a state-building logic combined with a disseminated appeal’ (2018). To whom are such appeals addressed? What components of cultural inheritance might the state-building project, and its intended international counter-order, comprise? The answer, I contend, is located in ISIS’s Archive, enabled by the organisation’s superlative position at the limits of the contemporary nation-state (and its crises), as well as, more critically, ISIS’s monopoly over the attention economy engendered by profit-driven media and the Internet era’s infinite digital circulation. By Way of Conclusion The ongoing collection of ‘Islamic State’ cultural productions – by all ­parties – proves highly comparable to what Abigail De Kosnik identifies as memory ‘gone rogue’ (2016: 175). De Kosnik’s Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom proves laudatory in its praise of fans who superseded the state’s role in preservation of cultural memory. What may previously have constituted ‘scandal’ among professionals, De Kosnik (2016: 175) contends,

290 | ama nda r o ge r s [c]onsists precisely of their transforming ‘archives’ and ‘archiving’ from terms that signify exclusivity into terms that signify commonness, so that instead of locked rooms, the word ‘archives’ connotes websites that oper­ ate as information commons, and instead of the concealed workings of a rarified circle of experts, ‘archiving’ refers to acts of database design and maintenance that ‘anyone can do’, that are commonplace . . . Derrida emphasizes rogues’ abilities to bring about change, even on the scale of sweeping, radical revolutions. The rogues of digital archiving have effectu­ ated cultural memory’s escape from the state; memory will never again be wholly, or even mostly, under the control of the state or state-approved capitalists. Having fallen under the sway of rogues, cultural memory has become more democratic.

I fear De Kosnik’s fundamental point about cultural memory’s democratisa­ tion proves correct, though not at all in the laudatory manner she intended. Indeed, academic specialists in security studies and terrorism analysts alike have begun to argue for the right to maintain their own ‘Islamic State’ Archive, amid government attempts to crack down (Prothero 2018; Wood 2018). Beyond the digital landscape, moreover, one may ponder the contem­ porary dispute concerning the so-called ‘ISIS Files’ collected and published by The New York Times (Callimachi 2018; Callimachi and Slackman 2018). ‘Hard’ archival material, in the form of internal ‘Islamic State’ documents col­ lected by the reporter Rukmini Callimachi, have sparked a vehement debate over the particular legal ramifications of cultural heritage in conflict zones, and raised vocal questions over ‘who owns the right to Iraq’s history’ (Antoon 2018; Asher-Schapiro 2018; Brand 2018; MESA Committee on Academic Freedom 2018). Yet it is worth contemplating the question: to what extent might debates about the ‘authentic’ home for the ISIS files mirror or perhaps re-inscribe precisely ISIS’s claims of limitless, transnational sovereignty? By way of conclusion, I highlight a further iteration of the ISIS Archive, in both tangible and digital incarnation (Figs 13.8 and 13.9). One America News Network, established by Robert Herring in 2013, now occupies a prominent position in American right-wing discourse (and White House briefing room fixture), through the circulation of a particularly

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Figure 13.8  Conservative news network OAN draws on recovered ISIS Files to claim parallels between so-called ‘Islamic State’ and the American left. Screengrab. One America News. ‘“ISIS Files”: “Islamic State”’s Regime in Iraq Similar to Dem “Mob Rule” in U.S.’, YouTube, November 2018. Screenshot taken by the author, 2018

Figure 13.9  OAN recirculates imagery produced by ‘Islamic State’ of iconoclastic destruction inside the Mosul Museum, in juxtaposition with videos of American protesters agitating for the removal of Confederate monuments. Screengrab. One America News, ‘“ISIS Files”: “Islamic State”’s Regime in Iraq Similar to Dem “Mob Rule” in U.S.’, YouTube, November 2018. Screenshot taken by the author, 2018

292 | ama nda r o ge r s profitable type of conspiratorial fear-mongering in the Trump era. Following the release of the so-called ‘ISIS Files’, OAN created yet more material for the archive, recirculating iconoclastic spectacle in the name of profit-margin and prophetic politics of a different type. And the ‘Islamic State’ Archive contin­ ues to grow in the borderless, de-territorialised expanse of a Digital-Infinite, endless creation and preservation, even through the efforts of ‘anti’-curators: and all in the name of ISIS’s destruction. Notes 1. Associated Press in Baghdad. ‘“Islamic State” Destroys Ancient Mosul Mosque, the Third in a Week’, The Guardian, 27 July 2014, https://www.theguardian. com/world/2014/jul/28/islamic-state-destroys-ancient-mosul-mosque (last acc­ essed 25 November 2019); see also Tim Lister. ‘Al-Nuri mosque: The Irony of ISIS’ Iconoclasm’, CNN, 22 June 2017, middleeast/al-nuri-mosul-isis-iraq/index.html (last accessed 25 November 2019). 2. Joshua Eaton, ‘Republican ISIL Fearmongering Amplifies the Extremists’ Messages, Experts Say’, Al Jazeera America, 20 October 2014, http://america. (last accessed 25 November 2019) 3. Post-Shah museums, and the production of representational imagery (even expressly religious in nature), proliferated in post-revolutionary Iran – owing to Shi’ism’s differential acceptance of figurative visual culture as theologically inoffensive. 4. One need only consider the emergence of recent debates over the responsibility of social media platforms and corporations to regulate objectionable speech in online spaces – such a challenge does the question of internet jurisdiction pose to conventional policing of the sovereign territory of a defined nation-state. 5. Thomas Heghammer’s edited volume Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists (2017) is a notable exception. Nonetheless, significant short­ comings plague the study. 6. Poke a bit further, and our instinctual and immediate disavowal of the ‘ISIS-asculturally-productive’ implicates a looming darker inheritance – that of colonial plunder. Compellingly, and critically, a thread of continuity that sustains antiqui­ ties markets up until the present feeds Western museums and private collections, and ensures continued profitability for looters in Middle Eastern conflict zones. Finally, it bears noting that the ideological configurations of ‘Islamic State’ aim at

isl am ic st ate’s archi ve of  the di g i ta l in f inite    |  293 entrenching a manufactured clash of civilisations – enshrined in symbiosis with evangelical Holy Warriors whom they so publicly oppose. 7. As Jessica Winegar points out, American liberal elites reacted to the events of 9/11 with well-intentioned, but ultimately problematic, responses. Even as cultural institutions and museums embraced ‘Middle Eastern/Islamic’ artistic produc­ tion as an avenue aimed at countering negative stereotypes weaponised by the War on Terror, such attempts reinscribed troubling political categories and dis­ courses underwriting the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ approach to international affairs. Winegar notes that ‘universalist assumptions about art conceal the ways in which these events advance a particular political understanding of Middle Eastern his­ tory, culture, and religion, and wish specific futures upon Middle Easterners and, by extension, all Muslims’ (2008: 652). 8. Following the widespread manufactured outrage concerning the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’, the project’s imam shifted discursive strategies to emphasise socalled ‘moderate Islam’ in an attempt to allay suspicions about the American Muslim community, a move Mamdani critiqued as the tendency of repressed groups to align themselves with government agendas in hopes of inclusion, and – ultimately – a re-entrenchment of the ‘good Muslim/bad Muslim’ dichotomy (Corbett 2017: 12).

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296 | ama nda r o ge r s Harmansah, Ömür (2015), ‘ISIS, Heritage, and the Spectacles of Destruction in the Global Media’, Near Eastern Archaeology, 78, 3: 170–7. Herwitz, Daniel (2012), Heritage, Culture, and Politics in the Postcolony, New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Jones, Christopher (2018), ‘Understanding ISIS’s Destruction of Antiquities as a Rejection of Nationalism’, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, 6, 12: 31–58. Kanjou, Youssef (2018), ‘The Role of the Local Community and Museums in the Renaissance of Syrian Cultural Heritage’, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, 6, 2: 375–91. Kosnik De, Abigail (2016), Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Lababidi, Rim, and Hiba Qassar (2016), ‘Did They Really Forget How to Do It?: Iraq, Syria, and the International Response to Protect a Shared Heritage’, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, 4: 341–62. Mamdani, Mahmood (2005), Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror, New York: Doubleday. Mbembe, Achille (2002), ‘The Power of the Archive and Its Limits’, in Refiguring the Archive, ed. Carolyn Hamilton, Verne Harris, Jane Taylor, Michele Pickover, Graeme Reid and Razia Saleh, London: Kluwer Academic, pp. 19–26. Meskell, Lynn (2002), ‘Negative Heritage and Past Mastering in Archaeology’, Anthropological Quarterly, 75, 3: 557–74. Middle East Studies Association, Press Release, (last accessed 23 March 2019). Mostafa, Laila Hussein (2018), ‘Research Without Archives?: The Making and Remaking of Area Studies Knowledge of the Middle East in a Time of Chronic War’, Archivaria, 85: 68–95. Ndoro, Webber (2015), ‘Heritage Laws: Whose Heritage Are We Protecting?’, The South African Archaeological Bulletin,70, 202: 136–7. Ould Mohamedou, Mohammad-Mahmoud (2018), A Theory of ISIS: Political Violence and the Transformation of the Global Order, London: Pluto Press. Prothero, Mitch (2018), ‘Now Academics Studying ISIS Are Feeling the Heat of an Internet Crackdown’, BuzzFeed News, 8 December, (last accessed 23 March 2019). Al Quntar, Salam (2017), ‘Repatriation and the Legacy of Colonialism in the Middle

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We can agree, I think, that invisible things are not necessarily ‘not-there’; that a void may be empty but not be a vacuum . . . certain absences are so stressed, so ornate, so planned, they call attention to themselves; arrest us with intentionality and purpose. Toni Morrison (1988: 136)


hrough close examination of museums in their physical, virtual and imagined manifestations in North Africa and the Middle East, the arti­ cles in this collection ask us to think deeply about the minoritisation of both peoples and memory in the region and its narratives. How can museums work to claim recognition, if not inclusion? How do museums work to claim narratological space, and through claims to language, reclaim history? And, to turn to Morrison, how do museums and groups of people engage archives and planned absence? What possibilities of future reappearance can be staged? In these museums, might we be able to see, in the words of Eve Sedgwick (2015), ‘the many ways selves and communities succeed in extract­ ing sustenance from the objects of a culture – even of a culture whose avowed desire has often been not to sustain them’? As an offering to the rich and generative research presented in this volume, 299

300 | k a ta rzyna p ie pr z a k I would like to use this afterword to sketch the wider museological landscape in which these museums are located, which I will term here a ‘museology of disaster’, and also introduce the possibilities of affective research and practice as another theoretical tool in the discussion of minoritisation and inclusion in North Africa and the Middle East. Museology of Disaster From consideration of new publics to the narration of complex object histo­ ries, new museology urged museums and museum scholars around the world to think about absence, inclusion and access in the museum. Its underlying assumptions were that the end-point of museum history lies with open, plu­ ralist, democratic and participatory institutions. Kavita Singh (2015: 130) urges us to complicate new museology principles through her work on mul­ ticulturalism and the Indian national museum where ideals of inclusion meet a particularly tense political reality. She argues: ‘Perhaps the inconsistencies and the deficiencies in the National Museum even lead us to a worthwhile insight. Like the land it represents through culture, the Museum’s Nationalness is full of gaps and compromises, ideals contradicted by reality.’ This statement, while written for an Indian context, reflects global realities. In terms of North Africa and the Middle East, we can clearly see how state museums are only as interested in promoting participatory ideals and inclusion as is the political state. As Karen Exell (2016: 8) writes: ‘Often it is the very ability to museums to construct master narratives that has made them attractive as ideological tools. Certainly, in the Arabian Peninsula museums have been used to legitimate the ruling families.’ Most state-run museums in the region aim to retain top-down societal power dynamics and authority with local communities. For these communities, national museums are mostly seen as superficial props of national prestige, sites of silence and exclusion, failed or incomplete stagings of memory and identity, and exportproducts in service to a boutique-image of the nation created for tourists. So how might we characterise museology in a region dominated by authoritarian states, where museological ideals meet political realities? I would like to propose the term ‘museology of disaster’, not because museums are disasters, but because they must negotiate and participate in a region-wide administered global politics of threat in which authoritarian

m inori ti sed memory a nd a f f e ct    |  301 states maintain their power by holding an image of future and past disaster as its alternative. Brian Massumi (2010: 53) theorises the relationship between threat and time in this way: ‘Threat is from the future. It is what might come next. Its eventual location and ultimate extent are undefined. Its nature is open-ended. It is not just that it is not: it is not in a way that is never over. We can never be done with it.’ Disaster functions through threat to create similar experiences of time. When threat is never over, neither is disaster. In addition to future-facing disaster, we see different historical articulations of disaster (including the loss of Andalusia, the Nakba, civil war and violence, Arab ‘Spring’ uprisings) guiding states in the region and ultimately creating a state of being defined by disaster. Ariella Azoulay (2015: 212) describes the role of regime-made disaster as ‘when the regime produces an ongoing disaster and administers the archive of this disaster’. Museums, like art, culture and archives, exist in tension with disaster and are called upon by different actors to maintain, disrupt, withdraw and reconstruct themselves and their relationships with publics living in disaster. This dynamic is developed at length in the work of Walid Raad and the Lebanese artist and philosopher Jalal Toufic, who engage with the idea of material presence and immaterial withdrawal. As Finbar Barry Flood (2016) describes it: Toufic suggests that in the wake of a surpassing disaster – the atomic bomb­ ings of 1945, or the series of catastrophes that have hit the Arab world since the 1980s – certain artistic, literary, and musical works remain immaterially withdrawn. Artifacts, buildings, documents, and paintings may persist in a material sense but are unavailable to those directly affected by the surpass­ ing disaster, being seen but at the same time experienced and engaged with as if unavailable to vision. The idea owes something to a distinction between zahir and batin, between exoteric and esoteric, form and essence, in mysti­ cal strains of Islamic thought.

The theorisation of material and immaterial interactions between vision, access and experience in the work of Raad and Toufic brings us to a key tension in museology in North Africa and the Middle East. In terms of publics, in this museology of disaster state museums often function to insist that there is ‘nothing to see here’. Object labelling remains

302 | k a ta rzyna p ie pr z a k sparse, and ‘modern’ history amorphous and vague. This calls to mind the philosopher Jacques Rancière’s (2001) articulations concerning politics: The police says that there is nothing to see on a road, that there is nothing to do but move along. It asserts that the space of circulating is nothing other than the space of circulation. Politics, in contrast, consists in transforming this space of ‘moving-along’ into a space for the appearance of a subject: i.e., the people, the workers, the citizens: It consists in refiguring the space, of what there is to do there, what is to be seen or named therein.

In a museology of disaster, the museum works to maintain a controlled space of circulation and in so doing works with the (police) state to limit the pos­ sibility of the emergence of new political subjectivities. When read against this museology of disaster, we see more deeply the power of the work of the museums analysed in this collection as they disrupt space and narrative in order to stage the (re)appearance of minoritised politi­ cal subjects. We see articles that rethink the idea of the appearance of the category ‘minority’ and ask the questions: What does the term ‘minority’ mean for North Africa and the Middle East? What is the difference between quantifiable and qualifiable minorities? What does it mean when the major­ ity is minoritised by the state? Furthermore: What does a museum mean for minoritised peoples? What can a museum mean to minoritised peoples? What claims can a physical museum space make in the relationship between minoritised people and understandings of citizenship in their nation-states? What are the limits of those claims? What claims can a virtual archive make in the relationship between minoritised people and understandings of citizen­ ship in their nation-states? What are the limits of those claims? What claims can a narrative make in the relationship between minoritised people and understandings of citizenship in their nation-states? What are the limits of those claims? What does it mean to have partial membership in the museum? In the nation? What does it mean to create a virtual ‘archive of disaster’? Affective Work in a Museology of Disaster Affect theory does not discover an authentic self buried by oppression; it constructs one anew from the wreckage of defeat. In doing so, it assembles collective knowledge . . . (Winant 2015)

m inori ti sed memory a nd a f f e ct    |  303 In a museology of disaster, how might affect theory be mobilised to think through the work of museums and minoritised peoples, memory and narra­ tive? What might it mean to work beyond a desire to return to an ‘authentic self-buried by oppression’? How might affect theory offer new entry points into the histories of collectivities beyond the recuperation of authenticity? The articles in this collection highlight museums whose work has been to stage recognition of minoritised peoples, both as part of, but also as distinct from, the history of the nation: recognition of history, of cultural production, of dispossession and violence. I would like to offer here my contribution to this approach, but through an attention to affect and how it reveals the intensities of experience in the Moroccan museum. In November 2018, encouraged by an open invitation from the Atelier des recherches autour des arts visuels (ARAV), I ran two workshops at a small contemporary art gallery, Le Cube, next door to the national Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. The first workshop was a short evening ‘imagination’ of what the term ‘national museum’ means and what people wished it could be. With around forty participants (mostly Moroccan, their ages ranging from early twenties to mid-fifties), we discussed the history of museums in Morocco. Each participant was then given a pad of stickies and asked to write down, in Arabic, Amazigh languages, French or English, any concept or idea they wished they could see in the museum. After a short while, we put the stickies randomly on the gallery wall. This allowed for a wide range of opinion to be registered at once. The results revealed a deep desire for a space of connection and activation of knowledge, with key terms such as ‘interaction’, ‘events’, ‘encounter’, ‘debate’, ‘participation’. A number of stickies struck me in particular on account of their desire to include discourse that is tightly controlled by the state: ethnicity, racism, terrorism, as well as societal dynamics such as Hchouma (shaming and normative behaviour) and hogra (anger and indignation in response to humiliation). The next day, I conducted a day-long affective museology workshop with a small group of twelve, primarily young professionals working in art, cultural policy and architecture. We discussed affect theory and the politics of surface reading, visited a national museum to register emotion, and then mapped emotions and affects as they presented themselves in that space. The museum we mapped was the recently renovated archaeological museum, now

304 | k a ta rzyna p ie pr z a k named the Museum of History and Civilisations, founded during the French Protectorate and housed in a 1930s villa near the King’s palace complex. In addition to the change in its name, the recent renovation created a new scenography that charted chronologically the history of multiple civilisations which, as Abdelaziz Idriss underlined in his guided tour of the museum, ‘occupied the land that is now Morocco’. We took with us an agreed-upon list of words and directions with which to note emotions (socially constructed linguistic carriers) and affective (prepersonal, pre-linguistic) intensities throughout the space.1 The sixty-word list was derived from a French-language linguistic study of emotions, combined with my translation into English of those terms, and with the addition of a few emotions in Moroccan Arabic which linguists have identified as belong­ ing specifically to Moroccan Arabic, two of which I have already defined: Hchouma and hogra. My plan was to ask the participants to sit with this list and edit it, and also think about how we experience affects, as pre-linguistic and hence pre-emotional intensities. Before we even entered the museum, participants were already talking about the way in which the museum build­ ing, a colonial-era villa, was affecting them and framing their perceptions. They struggled to square the feelings of intimacy and domesticity that come with the idea of a house with the colonial history and national weight that the museum carried. Once in the museum, we spent an hour individually noting emotions and charting how, what and where affects emerged. Upon our return to the gallery, we collectively mapped out these nodes of perception. There was no official plan of the museum, so the architects took the pen and drew the space as we remembered it. We worked together, walking around the table, talking and mapping. The group then decided to take some of the stickies from the gallery wall and integrate them with the map. The logic of the relationship between the concept and the map varied – at times the map was in direct illustration of the concept, but at others the concept was placed where it was missing, or where one might aspire for it to be. Three sites emerged as places where intensity was experienced most deeply: a collection of tools from 7000 bce, a vitrine of broken Islamic-era ceramics, and an area of human remains and a plaster reproduction of a burial site. The tools were a site where one member of the group talked about

m inori ti sed memory a nd a f f e ct    |  305 allowing himself to feel a sense of regional pride. He stated that, as he walked away from the entry-way map of contemporary Morocco and towards these oldest artefacts, which were found in the region he is from, he struggled to let himself feel pride. It was easy to intellectualise and critique ideas of belong­ ing, but here he was actually feeling it and not knowing what to do with this emotion. While the museum was authorising, indeed expecting him, to feel national pride, the idea that his region (and not his country) had created these tools worked to undo the narrative desired by the state. The broken ceramics were a site of intensity where a few participants felt deep sadness. They wrote on the map: ‘the inability to reinvent oneself’. The section was named ‘the art of living’, and somehow these shards projected the opposite: a failure to live fully. The section of the museum that elicited the most comments and the most intense emotion, however, was the area of the burial cast and the human remains. In trying to understand the intensity of our experience, we talked about mortality, ethics and the need for dignity and respect for human remains, but I would argue that perhaps what was causing the intensity was not so much the human remains, but where they, and the need for dignity and respect, were placed. Tucked under the staircase, partly hidden, walked over and on top of. These basic human needs, karama in Arabic, were the rallying call of Moroccans during the February 20 movement of the Arab spring, and they remain at the core of political movements of minoritised peoples that critique the authoritarian state today. And so, through attention to affect, surprising political conversations about minoritisation and inclusion emerged. We talked about the identities and affinities that the national museum had triggered. The term ‘amours fragiles’ (fragile loves) was proposed by one of the participants. It reflected the rests and remains of past humanity, but also spoke to the relationship between people, and between people and the nation. While we started with the word ‘fragile’, I turned the focus onto the word ‘love’ and asked how we might think of it as a transformative verb rather than a plural noun. In her essay ‘A Properly Political Concept of Love’, Lauren Berlant (2011) discusses love in terms of ‘infrastructures for proximity that bind us to the world in which we find each other, or bind us to each other and, in such binding, make a world’. Through affective attention, the museum could become the site of such

306 | k a ta rzyna p ie pr z a k b­ inding and world making. Lynn Szwaja and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto (2006: xiv) have argued for ‘the transformative potential of [museums] in the public sphere, institutions that resonate with memory, history, pain, beauty, and resilience’. Affective attention reveals the institutions’ potential and fragilities from another angle. The attention to emotion and affect in the Museum of History and Civilisations allowed us to momentarily suspend national time in the museum and ask a different set of questions of both the objects and ourselves. We used the museum as a register of affect with which to think less about Moroccan history and more about possible and potential infrastruc­ tures of proximity and connection. Through this, the possibility of a different type of archaeology, a socially reparative one, emerged. This archaeology was less concerned with authenticity than with the fragile potential to reconnect peoples beyond minoritising national narratives and social framings. What reparative futures can be imagined in and by museums that exist within and in tension with a museology of disaster? By bringing together this deeply generative group of articles and scholars, Virginie Rey is asking us to think seriously about how minoritised groups in the North Africa and the Middle East curate their histories and cultures, in which and on which terms, and ultimately to what ends. Note 1. Affect differs from emotion and feelings. For this exercise, we defined affect as a transmission of intensity, incipience and potential. As Eric Shouse (2005) elucidates the term, ‘affect is not a personal feeling. Feelings are personal and biographical but emotions are social and affects are prepersonal’. Furthermore, unlike emotion and feeling, affect ‘cannot be fully realized in language’ and is ‘always prior to and/or outside of consciousness’.

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Al-Andalus, 10, 213–14 Al-Assad, Bachar, 52 Al-Imam, Shafiq, 34, 39, 40, 42, 49 Al-Khalifa, Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed, 66–7 Al-Qaeda, 273, 281 Al-Qattan, Omar, 154, 158, 163, 164, 166, 170, 175, 178 Abdul-Hak, Selim Abu Dhabi car museum in Liwa, 119 labour migrant population, 120–2 Alawite (Alaouite), 12, 45, 51, 52 Aleppo, 44, 48, 51, 149 artisanship, 46 museum of (archaeology), 33, 52 museum of (Beit Achiqbash), 47–8 ALESCO, 10 Alevism (Alevi), 95, 105, 261 Amahan, Ali, 73 Amazigh, 10, 303 Amélineau, Émile, 185 Amna Suraka Prison Museum, 247 Anderson, Benedict, 116 anthropology mosaic, 12 Arab League, 10

nationalism, 41, 66, 246 Regional Centre for World Heritage, 66 socialism, 49 spring, 305 see also pan-Arabism Arabic (language), 37 Arabisation, 9, 42, 51 Armenian diaspora, 22, 131, 133, 148 folklore, 132 language, 142, 144 Genocide Orphans’ Aram Bezikian Museum, 130–48 art Arab, 22, 38, 181, 185, 187 Islamic, 22, 185, 195, 200 Moroccan, 20, 72–3 Muslim, 7, 37, 193–4 Premiers, 4 Syrian, 38 artisanship in museum, 39, 47, 49–50, 77 renovation, 38–9 Asad, Talal, 288 Attia, Simon, 207 Azem Palace (Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions), 18, 33–5, 37


i ndex    |  309 Azoulay, André, 212, 214–18, 220, 221 Azoulay, Ariella, 301 Baath, 246–8, 262 Baghdad, 48, 258, 292 Bahais, 18 Bahrain African population of, 57–8, 60, 66 Authority for Culture and Antiquities, 66 heritage, 56, 68–8 National Museum of, 17, 19, 118; Customs and Traditions Hall, 19, 57, 118; Wedding Exhibit, 57–8, 61–8 Baudrillard, Jean, 273 Bedouins, 7, 18, 45, 47, 51 Beirut, 37, 43, 149 National Museum of, 131 Bennett, Tony, 58, 74, 81, 116 Berber, 7, 18, 38, 73, 215, 230, 237 Bernasek, Lisa, 4, 49 Boorstin, Daniel, 273 Boudra, Elmehdi, 219 Bourdieu, 74–5, 77, 79 Bristol-Rhys, Jane, 113 Bshara, Khaldun, 152, 161, 169, 170, 178 Butler, Alfred, 185 Butler, Judith, 280, 283, 288 Cairo, 22, 184, 187, 193, 200 Centre for Folklore at the Ministry of Culture in, 52 Christian Armenians, 44, 132–4, 142, 252 Egyptians, 183, 185, 199 genocide, 148 heritage, 185–6, 191, 193, 199, 237 and Muslim, 147, 186 Orthodox, 182 Cilicia Museum, 130–1 Circassian, 12 Clarke, Somers, 185 Clédat, Jean, 185 Coptic art, 181, 187, 193–4, 200 heritage, 23, 185–6 language, 184 modernity, 186 Patriarch (Patriarchate), 187–8, 191–4 Patriarchal Museum (Cairo), 22, 181, 188

Crum, Walter, 185 Damascus, 13, 33, 37, 40–2, 44–6, 50–1 De Cesari, Chiara, 25, 153, 158 Deleuze, Gilles, 273 diaspora Armenian, 131, 135, 148 Iraqi, 16 Kurdish, 17, 24, 242–5, 252–3 Moroccan-Jewish, 17, 205–6 Palestinian, 16, 153, 155, 165, 167 Sub-Saharan African, 16, 57 Tunisian-Jewish, 17, 24, 228, 232, 235 discourse American political, 283, 288, 290 and convivencia, 212–14, 221 and democratisation, 270, 272 and heritage, 6, 123, 212, 278 and Holocaust, 160–1 and migration, 114–15, 118 and minoritisation, 43, 49 in museum, 132–44 and nationalism, 20, 88, 157 and race, 58–9 and secularisation, 20, 93, 98, 101 Djerba, 227, 231, 234, 238 Dubai labour migrant population, 120 Museum 118, 119 Druze, 18 El-Dekhra, Dar, 231–3 El Shakry, Omnia, 50 Elloumi Rekik, Salma, 231 Erbil (Kurdistan Iraq), 242, 244, 246, 261 Erbil Citadel, 241, 246, 259 ethnography and colonialism, 36–9 categories, 7, 46 and class, 49, 57 and economy, 113 and gender, 17 and museum, 3, 8, 9, 35, 37, 116–18, 246 and nationalism, 244, 253, 262, 274, 303 and space (‘ethno-spaciality’), 124 Exell, Karen, 12, 16, 300 Finzi, Silvia, 237 Flood, Finbar Barry, 301

310 | i nde x Foley, James, 273, 275, 277 folklore (vernacular culture, popular culture, folk culture) and class, 49 as culture, 132 and modernisation, 50 and museography, 53 and music, 61, 65–6 as national heritage, 8, 19, 33–5, 41, 47, 50–2 and Sufism, 87 folklorisation, 3 Foucault, Michel, 17, 58, 74, 116, 276 Gayet, Albert, 185 Ghriba, La (Synagogue), 227, 228, 231, 233, 234 Gouraud, Henri, 37 Gulf Cooperation Council, 14, 56 cultural identity, 114, 117–18 folk music, 61, 65–6 heritage , 112, 117 Labor Artist Coalition, 115 migrants, 115–16, 120, 123–4 museums, 81, 113, 117, 122, 124 population, 113 slavery, 59–60 Hacıbektaş (Turkey), 95–6, 98 Hacıbektaş Veli Museum, 20, 88–9, 95, 98, 100–1, 103, 105–6 Hage, Ghassan, 157 Halabja Museum, 247–8, 256, 262 Halbwachs, Maurice, 227 Hassan II, King, 215 Hawari, Mahmoud, 169 Hebrew, 152, 170 heritage and authenticity, 116 and decolonisation, 18, 35, 50–1, 62 and democracy, 233 and dispossession, 154–5, 162, 174, 178, 233, 303 and fundamentalism, 206–8 and nostalgia, 68, 228 and patrimonialisation, 5, 8, 10 and performativity, 67, 112 and risk, 278–9 and social development, 110–13 and tourism, 10 see also patrimonialisation

Herz, Max, 185 Holocaust, 160–1, 169, 206, 209 Hussein, Saddam, 242, 246–7 ICCROM, 10 ICOFOM, 245 ICOM, 10, 245 Idriss, Abdelaziz, 304 Iraq Baath, 49, 246 folklore, 25, 47, 246 heritage, 255 Mesopotamia, 8, 252, 259 war, 283, 289 see also Kurdistan ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, IS, ISIL) archive, 25, 269–70 iconoclasm, 24, 269, 275–9, 282–3, 288, 292 museum, 270 terrorism, 290 Islam and mysticism, 91, 301 Shia, 12, 69, 246, 275 Sunni, 52, 69, 89, 94, 96–8, 100, 102–3,106, 257, 269 Jacobsen, Maria, 137, 142, 144, 146 Jaffa, 151, 170 Jardaneh, Zina, 156, 163, 165, 167, 169–70, 175 Jerusalem, 152, 153, 154, 159, 169–75, 178, 181 Judaism and Islam, 206, 209, 212, 217–19, 221 Morocco, 211, 217, 219, 221 Tunisia, 234, 237 Kemal, Mustafa (Atatürk), 97–9 Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara, 39, 47 Konya, 20, 87, 89–93, 95, 98, 103–5, 107 Kreps, Christina, 4 Kurdish activism, 24, 253–5 culture, 242, 259–62 diaspora, 17, 24, 242–4, 252–4, 258, 262 ethno-nationalism, 244, 262 Memory Programme, 242 Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), 24, 242 Regional Government (KRG), 242, 246

i ndex    |  311 Museum, 24, 241–2, 244; objection to, 254–6, 259, 261 Laboratoire du Patrimoine (Tunis), 228 La Hara (Tunisia), 235 Larguèche, Abdelhamid, 229, 237 Lebanon Mandate, 42, 52 civil war, 22, 147–8, 301 sectarianism, 22, 131, 148 Lellouche, Gilles, 231 Lenssen, Anneka, 38 Levy, Simon, 211 Lewis, Bernard, 58 LGBTQI, 11, 17, 18 Libeskind, Daniel (Studio), 241 Lorimer, John, 60 Lumley, Robert, 147 Lyautey, Hubert (Maréchal), 37, 38 Lynch, Bernadette, 253 MacLeod, Suzanne, 119 Maffi, Irene, 11 Makdisi, Saree, 156, 157, 177 Makdisi, Ussama, 13 Malt, Carol, 17 Mandate French, 7, 13, 18, 37–43, 131 British, 13, 53, 56, 60, 158–9, 183–4, 252 Mardam, Jamil, Bey, 43–4 Maronites, 18, 42, 44 Maspero, Gaston, 185, 188 Massad, Joseph, 151 Massumi, Brian, 301 Mauss, Marcel, 38 Mbembe, Achille, 270–1 Mevlana Museum, 20, 89–95, 98, 101–2, 104 memory archives, 30, 289–90 childhood, 216 collective, 228 erasure, 6, 22, 155–6, 252, 257 minority, 299 space, 11 migration as displacement, 16, 22,155, 167 and dispossession, 16, 155, 233 migrants as labour force, 113–16 and museums, 112 and public space, 112

Mimouna Club, 206, 217, 219–21 minority and class, 12 and demography, 13, 15 diaspora, 17 and exclusion, 13–15 and gender, 17, 18, 14 and genocide, 9, 16, 21, 130–5, 140–8, 178, 242, 247–8, 257, 261 question, 43 resistance, 89, 122, 140, 153, 158 and sectarianism, 12–13 status, 15 Monneret de Villard, Ugo, 185 Montagne, Robert, 37–8, 44–5 Morocco Council of the Jewish Communities of Morocco, 205, 206 Jardins Andalous, 79–80 Service des Arts Indigènes, 38 tourism, 206, 211–16, 217 Mohammed VI, King, 82, 209, 215 Museum, 82, 303 Mohammed, Robina, 120 Morris, William, 49 Morrison, Toni, 299 Mosul (Iraq), 48, 268–9 Mosque, 292 Museum, 269, 279, 291 museology (museography) and affect, 25, 299, 302–6 of disaster, 4, 25, 300–3, 306 museum and architecture, 16, 58, 119, 168–70, 241 as archive, 18, 25, 50 audience, 20, 21, 72, 75–9, 82, 84, 94, 117, 145–7, 159, 164, 174–6, 213, 237, 254, 274 and class, 5, 16–17, 19, 43, 49–50, 61, 74, 77, 79, 82, 116 as ‘contact-zone’, 4 and decolonisation, 4, 18, 35, 50–1 and democracy, 12, 233–4 and ethnography, 33 and folklore, 8, 33–5, 41, 74, 246 and gender, 5, 17–18, 19, 58 and governmentality , 58, 65 and inclusion, 3–6, 20, 57, 111, 117, 119, 131, 245–6, 256, 299–300 and mediation, 12, 25

312 | i nde x museum (cont.) and memory, 164, 174, 178–9, 206, 207, 230–2, 238, 281, 300, 303, 306 and migration, 112 and modernity, 16, 282 and pluralism, 1, 35–6 and race, 5, 18, 19, 59 and republicanism, 5 and social status, 123 Musée du Quai Branly, 4 Museum of Jewish-Tunisian Heritage, 228–9 Museum of Palmyra, 47, 269 Nahum, Maya, 233 Nakba, 25, 153, 157, 162–4, 167–8, 301 nationalism Arab, 41, 66, 246 Egypt, 23, 195 ethnicity, 67, 262, 274 and heritage, 14, 67 Israel, 173–4 and migration, 67 and museums, 2, 12, 14, 67–8, 113–14, 195 territorial, 2, 12, 278 Turkey, 132 Netanyahu, Benjamin, 161–1, 171 New Museology, 3–4, 300 New Seville, 10, 213 Nora, Pierre, 130 Oman National Museum, 119 Orientalism, 280–1 Ottoman architecture, 33, 36 Empire, 6, 8, 13, 17, 42, 59, 132, 135, 139, 149 Oudayas Museum, 19–20, 73, 75, 79–80, 82, 83 Ould Mohamedou, Mohammad-Mahmoud, 280–1 Oulebsir, Nabila, 7 Palestinian diaspora, 16, 153, 155, 165, 167 heritage, 9, 153, 154, 157, 170 Liberation Organisation (PLO), 153 Museum Birzeit, 15, 22, 154–7, 175, 177 refugees, 175 resistance (activism), 153, 158, 164–5, 171, 174, 179

Pan-Arabism, 28, 10 Pan-Islamism, 10 Pappe, Ilan, 157 Peutz, Natalie, 9 Peyronel, Luca, 255 Pieprzak, Katarzyna, 4, 23 pilgrimage, 105, 216, 221, 228, 233 pluralism, 1, 11, 35 Qatar embargo 12 labour migrant population, 114–15 museum, 16 slavery, 60 Quibell, James Edward, 185 Raad, Walid, 301 Rabat (Morocco) Kasbah, 20, 75, 79, 82, 84, 216 Rabbat, Nasser, 15 Rancière, Jacques, 302 Revault, Jacques, 39 revolution in Arab world (Arab Spring), 11, 305 Iran, 258, 274–5, 292 and museography, 3, 81 Tunisia (Jasmine Revolution), 11, 24, 228, 232–3 Rey, Virginie, 232, 306 Ricard, Prosper, 38, 73 Rico, Trinidad, 278 Rivet, Paul, 38 Robson, Laura, 13 Rumi (Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi), 88, 90, 93 Ruskin, John, 49 Saadiyat Island (Gulf ), 115 Sadek, Walid, 22 Sahhar, Micaela, 161 Said, Edward, 152, 281 Said Pasha Zulfiqar, 184, 192 Sassen, Saskia, 116 Sedgwick, Eve, 299 Sharjah Archaeology Museum, 118 Sidaway, James, 120 Simaika, Marcus, 23, 185, 187–200 Simon Attia Synagogue, 23, 206–7, 217 Smith, Laurajane, 5 space of connection, 25, 303 of control, 100, 302

i ndex    |  313 digital, 269, 274, 276 lieux de mémoire, 179 public, 112, 120–2, 216, 234, 256 and resistance, 122–3 sacred, 100–3 and segregation, 113, 121 studies, 21 Strygowski, Joseph, 185 Sufism and authenticity, 92–3, 102 Bektaşi order, 98, 100, 103–4 and Islam, 93–4 Mevlevi order, 88, 91–2, 94, 102, 104 patrimonialisation of , 9, 20, 87–8 and pilgrimage, 104, 105 sema ceremony, 87–8, 91–2, 94, 98, 106 tarika (order), 96, 105 tekke (lodge), 20, 87–8, 95–6, 98, 104 türbe (shrine), 88, 92–3, 100 and Turkish state, 87–9, 103 Syria Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, 33 École des Arts Décoratifs Arabes, 38 identity, 13, 35 independence, 42–3 Institut Français d’Archéologie et d’Art Musulmans (IFFAM), 37 Institut Français de Damas, 37 Greater (Syria), 7 Service des Beaux-Arts, Antiquités et Monuments Historiques, 72 Syrian Revolt, 39 Tahan, Lina, 131 Tel Aviv, 152 Tlili, Anwar, 245 Toufic, Jalal, 301 tourism and colonialism, 49, 72 Morocco, 206, 211–16

and museography, 5 Tunisia, 231, 238 Turkey, 90, 95 Trocadero Museum, 38 Trump, Donald, 171, 292 Tunisia Institut National du Patrimoine, 232 Jewish population, 227–8 Ministry of Culture, 237 Museum of Democracy, 12 Office des Arts Tunisiens, 39 pilgrimage, 228, 233, 237 revolution, 228, 233, 234 tourism, 231, 238 Turkey Justice and Development Party (AKP), 88 and secularisation, 89–90 and tourism, 90, 95 Turkification, 8, 132 Um Johar, 65–6 UNESCO, 9, 10, 161–2, 212 UNWRA, 166–7 Urevich, Lisa, 66 Valensi, Lucette, 232, 237 Voll, Arthur, 151 White, Benjamin, 13 White, Evelyn, 185 Wirth, Louis, 14 Wolfe, Patrick, 156, 178 World Heritage, 66, 84, 161, 174 Yezidi, 18, 252, 257, 264 Zertal, Idith, 160 Zionism and cultural narrative, 152, 155–61 as political movement, 35, 158, 237