An Art History Yet to Come: Kirsten Scheid on Palestinian Art

When we want to talk about power, we want to talk about hegemony, we want to talk about hierarchy and structure, we rarely look at art—but on the other hand, we need to. In order to understand power and hierarchy and structure we need to understand people's self-expressions, what mobilizes them, what brings them together, what affects them. . . . Art can be that site.

in this episode

Caro Fowler talks with Kirsten Scheid, the 2019–2020 Clark/Oakley Humanities Fellow at the Clark Art Institute. While a fellow in Williamstown, Kirsten worked on an ethnography of aesthetic encounters in contemporary Palestine, building on her career-long research into and archival documentation of artmaking in Palestine and Lebanon. In their conversation, Kirsten and Caro discuss issues of access and ethics around archives, and Kirsten shares her belief in the power of archives to “hail an art history yet to come.” They also talk about curatorial projects and consider imagination as an ethical practice.


Kirsten Scheid is associate professor at the American University of Beirut, where she specializes in the anthropology of art with a regional focus on Arab societies. She co-curated The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener (Beirut, 2016) and Jerusalem Actual and Possible: The Jerusalem Show 9 (Jerusalem, 2018). In Beirut she co-founded Nadi al-Saha for cultural facilities, Hikayat Walid min Bayrut children’s book line, and the Anthropology Society in Lebanon. Scheid was the Clark/Oakley Humanities Fellow (2019–2020). Her publications can be read at 

Photo by Adine Sagalyn. This conversation was recorded on April 14, 2020.


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