On Wednesday, February 12, the Gurmani Centre held a talk titled “Imagination as Resistance''. The guest for the day was Adania Shibli, a Palestinian writer who has authored accredited works of fiction and nonfiction and teaches at Birzeit University, Palestine. Through this talk, the Gurmani Centre hoped to initiate a tradition of inviting writers and artists from diverse global regions to LUMS.
The discussion centred around ways in which Palestinians employ cunningness and playfulness in their daily lives to resist the Israeli settler-state, and how this playfulness has inspired contemporary Palestinian artworks. Shibli began by quoting some lines from a Palestinian play: “I can’t take it any longer. I am suffocating, I want to play.” She then traced the idea of using cunningness as a tool to hoodwink an oppressive authority figure back to the writings of the German writer Bertold Brecht. She also discussed the influence of these ideas on communists such as Jerry Rubin in their efforts to avoid the persecution of the American state.
Continuing her discussion of check posts, Shibli also highlighted how some Palestinians “play the game of dress up” to avoid being stripped and searched. This prompted her to display another contemporary Palestinian artwork, a short video titled Chic Point which filmed a fashion show for Israeli checkpoints. In her concluding remarks, Shibli stated how Palestinians employ such playfulness in their daily lives and artworks with minimum force but maximum imagination. “This allows them to reclaim a potentiality of life they have otherwise been deprived of,” she remarked. At the end of the talk, the Gurmani centre presented Shibli with a piece of calligraphy as a gesture of gratitude.