Heritage in Palestine: Coloniol Legacy in Postcoloniol Discourse

Khaldun Bshara

Springer Link


This essay addresses the need to look into ‘postcolonial’/‘post-Oslo’ Palestine heritage discourses and practices to uncover commonalities and divergences. These practices and discourses, I claim, tell a story about hidden codes of subjectivity while revealing the setbacks of postcolonial heritage discourses in a ‘postcolonial era’. I show that the Palestinian ‘postcolonial’ heritage polices and preservation practices echo colonial discourses in terms of approach, legal framework and end results. My premise is built on a long engagement with governmental and non-governmental heritage organisations as well as the literature on the topic that shows heritage discourses and practices implicated within the specific narrative that they are destined to (re) produce. I claim that postcolonial approaches to the material culture, consciously and unconsciously, reproduce the colonial situation and while the impetus towards preservation itself is a symptom of postmodernity, it is still carried out in a modernist spirit. Throughout my analysis, I show that what spills out from the heritage discourses, as well as the unintended consequences of heritage practices are worth considering in any analytical approach of heritage discourses.