'Terra Infirma': Palestinian Art in the World - Jeffrey Sacks, PhD

This event occurred in the past

'Terra Infirma': Palestinian Art in the World - Jeffrey Sacks, PhD

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Saints Tekakwitha and Serra Hall, 200, Humanities Center

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




Join USD’s Department of Languages, Cultures and Literatures for this Humanities Center speakers series event with Dr. Sacks, associate professor and chair of comparative literature and Arabic at the University of California, Riverside. The series focuses on how the disciplinary frameworks of language, culture and literary studies are expert modes of inquiry that explain how people operate, interact and create across axes of both connection and division.

This lecture addresses the work of the Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum (b. 1952) and the Palestinian novelist and essayist Adania Shibli (b. 1974), to consider the question of the “world” in relation to the colonial and settler-colonial forms, which continue to dominate our shared and divided landscapes. “Terra Infirma” is the title of an exhibition of Hatoum’s work, and it relates her art to the field of colonization, in a global frame, that begins in 1492; it inverts and presses the notion of “Terra Nullius,” if also “Terra Firma,” each of which indicates, differently, land which, seemingly uninhabited and unused, is open for colonization. Among Shibli’s work is an essay on Hatoum, which I’ll read in relation to a novel, “Touch,” which Shibli published, in Arabic, in 2010. To read Shibli with Hatoum, and to read Shibli reading Hatoum, is also to read the forms of sociality, and the sense of the subject, privileged in colonization—a subject of property, of self-ownership, and of temporal coherency, a subject of and for a state and its juridical forms—and which these works decompose and displace. What is given to us, I want to argue, in the work of these Palestinian artists, is a different sense of the world, a world that is no longer the world of settler colony and its terms but a world for a coming decolonization—one which Hatoum and Shibli announce to us in the form of their non-self-oriented, unstable, and destabilizing, art. 

The lecture will be moderated by John Halaka from USD's department of Art, Architecture and Art History. 

Reception to follow. 


This event is open to the public

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