EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 17 Apr 2024 | 17:00–18:30

Mediating Palestine: Reflections on Doomscrolling, Live-Streaming, and Witnessing

Nermin Elsherif (University of Utrecht), Chair: Alia Mossallam (EUME Fellow 2017-24)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

How can we engage with the horrors unfolding in Palestine? Black feminists advocate for an epistemology of ‘active witnessing’ that goes beyond simply naming perpetrators or succumbing to survivor’s guilt. Instead, they emphasize the witness’ responsibility to critically analyze the broader context, identify the underlying power structures perpetuating atrocities, and devise strategies for dismantling them. In this discussion, we will collaboratively reflect on how the war on Palestine has been mediated between mainstream media that lost its credibility to censorship, and social media platforms that became fertile grounds for transnational activism. Over the past six months, we became attached to young Palestinian journalists who live-streamed their own displacement on Instagram. We observed Generation-Z taking over TikTok to centre the Palestinian struggle within broader discourses of civil and indigenous rights. We have seen numerous actors at play from media conglomerates powered by ideological state apparatuses to Big Tech platforms operated by algorithmic orders and driven by an attention economy, to creative content producers weaponized their vernacular knowledge of new media. New publics are formed, and old publics are dispersed. By discussing the role of media in creating and representing the International Court of Justice ICJ hearing, we will also reflect on the power of media testimonies in a broader legal and historical perspective.

Nermin Elsherif is an Assistant Professor of Screen Cultures and Heritage Studies at Utrecht University. Trained in cultural studies, her work focuses on the relationship between the popular and the political. Nermin’s current research explores how nationalist conservative nostalgic discourses paved the way for the return of military authoritarianism in Egypt. In an earlier life, Nermin was – and perhaps still is – an urbanist. She designed spaces, maps, and books. Her interdisciplinary trajectory prompts her to occasionally cross the lines between media studies and memory studies.

Alia Mossallam is a cultural historian, pedagogue and writer interested in songs that tell stories and stories that tell of popular struggles behind the better-known events that shape world history. Her current project at EUME (2021-24), “Tracing Emancipation Under Rubbles of War”, retrieves the physical and political journeys of Egyptian and North African workers on the various fronts of World War I through the songs and memoires that recount their struggles. Some of her writing can be found in The Journal of Water History, The History Workshop Journal, the LSE Middle East Paper Series, Ma’azif, Bidayat, Mada Masr, Jadaliyya and 60 Pages. An experimentative pedagogue, she founded the site-specific public history project “Ihky ya Tarikh”, as well as having taught at the American University in Cairo, the Freie Universität in Berlin, the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts, and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. 

Please note that the Berliner Seminar will take place on-site at the Forum Transregionale Studien. We kindly ask for prior registration via eume(at) Depending on approval by the speaker(s), the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available on SoundCloud.

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