The Art of Resistance: “Sumud,” Graffiti, and the Palestinian Contestation of the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank



Oshinski, Christopher

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The local and transnational dimensions of the role that street art and graffiti play in challenging the apartheid conditions within the West Bank (Palestine) are an important piece of what is happening today in Palestine. By analyzing tensions in the Apartheid Wall as both an object to resist and a subject made to ‘speak’ through graffiti, social spaces and structures of social relations are revealed to be both enabled and constrained via this wall of separation. Based on interviews I conducted with Palestinians living within the Occupied Territories, as well as others among the Palestinian diasporic community living in exile, this thesis identifies and illustrates the significance of sumud, a distinct form of Palestinian cultural resistance, and graffiti’s place within it. Through research and first-hand experience, I find that spaces for Palestinian dissent, independent representation, and democratic politics taking place inside the Apartheid Wall are becoming increasingly circumscribed by the Israeli State’s methods of surveillance and censorship, which have been undermining Palestinian human security in the name of advancing Israel’s national security. Nevertheless, I argue that graffiti inside the Apartheid Wall continues to serve both to contest the meaning of space, and as a powerful, public practice, for reclaiming contested space. Furthermore, it serves as a potential resource (e.g., through what is often called conflict tourism) for Palestinian efforts to raise awareness within, and forge transnational ties of solidarity to, new audiences who are not directly embedded in the conflict.



Sumud, Apartheid, Graffiti, Palestine, Space, Architecture