Excavating Memory in Jerusalem

Professor Saree Makdisi
22 September, 2009

Watch the lecture (recording by ABC FORA TV )


In 2004, construction began in Jerusalem on the local branch of the Los Angeles-based Museum of Tolerance, designed by the leading American architect, Frank Gehry. The museum is now being built over the remains of what had been the largest and most important Muslim cemetery in Palestine, which had been in continual use from the time of the Crusades up until 1948. The clash between the two competing claims to the same site offers a paradigmatic case to explore and rethink the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, since all of the elements of the larger conflict are also in play in the struggle over this specific site.

Professor Saree Makdisi is a professor of English Literature at the University of California in Los Angeles, UCLA and the author of several books on British Romanticism, which is his area of expertise, and he writes on contemporary Arab politics and culture.

Born in Washington in 1964, to a family entrenched in academia. Saree Makdisi is the nephew of the late Edward Said and the grandson of Anis Makdisi, a distinguished professor of Arabic at the American University of Beirut.

Widely published in his academic area, Makdisi has also written many commentaries on Palestine for publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, London Review of Books and the San Francisco Chronicle.

In 2008 Makdisi published his book Palestine Inside Out: Everyday Occupation. The book combines the personal experiences of daily life under occupation with an analysis of how the occupation functions as a whole. "What I discovered when I went there, for all that I knew, I still found myself shocked" he explained.

Introduction by Antony Loewenstein, Sydney journalist and author of My Israel Question.

Saree Makdisi was in Australia for the Edward Said Memorial Lecture hosted by the University of Adelaide