Walking through Ramallah, it is hard not to notice the commercial advertising billboards, TV screens, and posters that line the city’s streets. They frequently feature bright glossy images of young nuclear families – always a man and a woman, often with light skin – gazing longingly at ‘dream’ homes. These materials document how capital and aspiration are increasingly enfolded into everyday space in post-Oslo Palestine. They particularly show how neoliberal ‘reforms’ have transformed Palestine’s political economy over (at least) the past thirty years. Indeed, Ramallah today embodies the complexities wrought by the Oslo process more than any other space in Palestine: its inhabitants paradoxically live under a colonial present shaped by neoliberal capitalism.
While recent works consider how such shifts reformulate the political economy of occupied Palestine, and reroute the struggle for national liberation, rarely are the visual cultures that mark, embody, and communicate such political and economic changes centralised as sites of meaning-making.Even less forthcoming is work that explores how such pictorial representations cultivate shifts in gender and sexuality norms.
This project thus offers a different interpretation of the West Bank’s neoliberal order that moves beyond these traditional theoretical straightjackets. Using visual and qualitative methods, it foregrounds both the production and consumption of gendered advertisements as a way to explore how neoliberal culture constructs gendered subjectivity. It broadly asks how transforming forms of political economy, social relations, and cultural practices relate to changing modes of gender and sexualities, identities, desires, and emotions in contemporary Palestine.
This project forms part of the Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme, funded by the Emirates Foundation.
P. Withers, R. Hammami, R. Jawad and A. Silmi, Neoliberal visions? Exploring gendered media and popular culture in the Palestinian West Bank, LSE Middle East Centre Paper Series (79), December 2023.
- H. Abushama, الترجمة بوصفها موقع صراع, LSE Middle East Centre Blog, June 2021. [English version]
- P. Withers, Neoliberal Visions: Exploring Gendered Adverts and Identities in the Palestinian West Bank, LSE Middle East Centre Blog, June 2020.
Dr Polly Withers | Principal Investigator
Polly is a Research Officer at the Middle East Centre, and a Visiting Fellow and Guest Lecturer at the Department of Media and Communications.
Dr Rema Hammami | Co-Principal Investigator
Rema is Associate Professor of anthropology at the Institute of Women's Studies, Birzeit University.
Hashem Abushama | Research Assistant
Hashem is Research Assistant at the Middle East Centre. He is also a doctoral candidate at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford.
Dr Rania Jawad | Research Assistant
Rania is Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Literature, Birzeit University.
Samar Kassis | Research Assistant
Samar is Researcher and Coordinator at the Institute of Women's Studies, Birzeit University.
Aisha Kherallah | Research Assistant
Aisha is Research Assistant at the Middle East Centre and a MSc student in Conflict Studies at the LSE.
Dr Amirah Silmi | Research Assistant
Amirah is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Women's Studies, Birzeit University.