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Art education under development in Palestine: de- and repoliticization via universal values, institutional critique, and reflexive practice

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen UnderhillORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article studies ways in which art education is mobilized to modify subjective and aesthetic performances of Palestinian students, considering debates surrounding depoliticization and development funding in Palestine. It explores the subject matter and critical stance deemed appropriate for self-directed art projects within a Ramallah art school. Moving beyond arguments put forward within existing literature on the depoliticizing impact of aid funding by drawing on ethnographic detail, the article explores how students experience and respond to this education. Despite being shaped by structures of control that arguably encourage depoliticization, many students understood this education as also opening a space for unpicking and critical examination of such structures. The article locates instances in which this re-politicization was invoked by students, in balance with their awareness of the complexity and contingency of this process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Underhill H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Year: 2023

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 15/08/2023

Acceptance date: 07/01/2023

Date deposited: 11/01/2023

ISSN (print): 1359-0987

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9655

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.14010


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