Thursday, December 21, 19h CET
Ibtisam Azem’s “The Book of Disappearance” imagines what would happen if every Palestinian between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea were to disappear overnight, without explanation – and how Israelis left behind would react to it. Is it, as one of the book’s protagonists suggests, the “cleanest” campaign of ethnic cleansing witnessed by humanity? Or is it a new type of Palestinian resistance, a way to reclaim space by creating confusion and doubt?
The Palestinian author drags us into a world of what she calls “shifting landscapes”: overlapping realities, created by forcing new narratives on places, houses, streets and beyond. Focusing on Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Azem works around how Palestinians navigate their own space and their surroundings, when every movement tells them that, somehow, they don’t exist. Mahmoud Darwish wrote about how “invaders fear memories.” Azem, through many layers of present memories and absent protagonists, reminds us how the continued presence of native people is considered a threat. And manages to appropriate and distort the famous Zionist claim of the land without people.
With the Blasphemic Reading Soirées, we are going to read excerpts from her book collectively. And while our group is usually based in Basel – city where Herzl and the Zionist congress made the decision to start the colonial project in Palestine – we this time opt for the online space to make participation from everywhere possible. At the same time, we see this as an invitation to consider the many layers of history that are present in the buildings and spaces of your own city – how colonial narratives and actions tried or are still trying to erase certain perspectives and how the many ways of remembering, in real life and in fiction, are acts of reshaping worlds.
Join us on zoom on the 21 December at 7 PM Basel time / 8 PM Jaffa time.