portrait De Cesari

Chiara De Cesari

Fellow 09-10 (Term III)

Cultural Anthropology / Heritage Studies / Archaeology / Middle East Studies


Chiara De Cesari received her BA and MA in Archeology and Near Eastern Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin. Following several years of work in museums and archaeology, she moved to Stanford University and shifted her interest from the study of the past to the politics of the past in the present, particularly the intersection of cultural memory, globalization and current transformations of the nation-state. At Stanford, Chiara completed a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology on Palestinian heritage politics (2008). Since then, she has been a postdoctoral scholar at the Research Institute for History and Culture at Utrecht University, where she is working on a book entitled Heritage Beyond the Nation-State: Palestine and the Politics of Culture. Another line of research explores the current making of a new European collective memory in relation to its blind spots, and combines this inquiry with an archaeological investigation of the carceral heritage of Italian colonialism in Libya. Areas of interest include: heritage, materiality, transnationalism, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 'Middle East', memory and art, space and architecture, the state, postcolonialism, 'Europe'.

ICI Project (2010)

Heritage Beyond the Nation-State: Palestine and the Politics of Culture

This project explores the current proliferation of heritage activities and cultural memory practices by ‘civil society’ organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It makes use of ethnography to investigate the ways in which heritage is woven into the political, with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also, more generally, to current transformations of the nation-state and its transnationalization. While heritage conservation has been historically monopolized by the state apparatuses, what is peculiar about Palestinian heritage-making today is that it is mainly produced by local non-governmental organizations entertaining multiple transnational connections. This project examines the intersection of memory and heritage practices with the nationalist anti-colonial struggle, the current entanglement of heritage promotion with development aid and state-building, the dynamics of Palestinian cultural politics, the peculiar cosmopolitanism of Palestinian heritage and its effects on communities’ life. I am interested in exploring this socio-cultural formation in relation to forms of non-state or counter-governmentality inscribed in a transnational space.

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