10 February 2007

"Camping in the Third Space: Agency, Representation, and the Politics of Gaza Beach"

I came across this essay by Laura Junka in Public Culture and I think her effort to depict dimensions of the daily lives of Palestinians (even if these may be exceptional trips to the beach) is salutary. Her images are a corrective to the notion that all there is in Gaza and the West Bank is constant conflict and violence. This, I think, is in keeping with the argument that Michelle Woodward makes in an essay I have posted on here.

That said, I find the text that Junka supplies to be more or less completely unhelpful. Referring to the first image I have lifted here, she writes: "
This image brings forth the hoping Palestinian subject, whose space of enunciation has, during the intifada al-Aqsa, become increasingly marginal and unrecognizable within dominant discourses on conflict."

Well, insofar as I understand this sentence, Junka is using it to absorb these women on an excursion to the beach into a complete abstraction called "the Palestinian subject." There is no agency here, just another author imposing another arcane and opaque language onto the lives of others. So too with this image:

Junka clearly aspires to enrich our understanding of Palestinian lives beyond the confines of our preconceived views. She writes: "in order to move beyond this discursive poverty, it is necessary to shift attention away from sites of conflict that are taken for granted toward un(der)represented spaces of Palestinian everyday life. These spaces, I argue, invite the possibility of epistemological “third spaces,” where meaning is not governed by preexisting interpretative frameworks and where the condition of aporia forces attention to other, subaltern aspects of the Palestinian struggle."

A couple of things. One, taking in the sun and eating ice cream at the beach are not obviously compenents of struggle. Two, why not just say 'we in Europe and North America have impoverished understandings of Palestinian lives and I am providing images that reveal those lives as much richer and more complex than we might think.' Third, can we approach any subject without some 'preexisting interpretive framework?' Doesn't Junka's photo-essay (stripped of the dense 'post-colonialist' lingo) lend itself to a universalist understanding of the episodes she depicts? Look Palestinians like to go to the beach too!

[All images in this post © Laura Junka.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah but did they vote for Hamas? - probably, yes.

You're an idiot jim-boy: incapable of a moral and critical position on this, playing little "we're all the same" games.

I'm not the same as terrorists, terrorist sympathisers, or terrorist voters inspired by a moslem jihadic ethic.

Maybe you are; and thanks for declaring that position so people can see your lack of morality and intelligence.

19 February, 2007 15:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


19 February, 2007 15:28  

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