Postdoctoral Fellow: Silvia Hassouna

Towards Hopeful Geographical Imaginations: creative alternatives and decolonial futures beyond the nation-state

My project explores environmental and cultural practices in Bethlehem and Ramallah, West Bank, that challenge the modern geopolitical imagination. The thesis demonstrated how creative interventions, which draw upon personal stories and ecological activism, refuse the abstracting and homogenising logics of the nation-state model and nurture alternative visions for the future. The PhD thesis combined participant observation at museums exhibitions, art festivals and guided walks with interviews with artists, curators, cultural activists and volunteers.

While scholarship in political and cultural geography often stresses the role of imagination in sustaining and justifying Empire, fewer studies have focused on its role in cultivating alternatives to settler-colonialism. Conceptually, imagination is explored through debates within the geographies of nationalism, postcolonial and decolonial geography.

During the fellowship I aim to consolidate my research contributions by focusing on cultural initiatives as central sites of prefigurative politics, where new possibilities and progressive futures are imagined and enacted. This fellowship will provide me with the opportunity to deepen the impact of my research by sharing key findings through journal publications and at relevant panel sessions at the 2023 AAG and RGS-IBG annual international conferences. Additionally, I plan to organise a symposium with stakeholders from the heritage field, including young practitioners and students, to discuss the possibilities and challenges of co-production in community heritage research.