Denial at the Limit of the Human

Denial at the Limit of the Human

Join our BUL Talk with Professor Saree Makdisi

Denial at the Limit of the Human

Date: Tuesday May 7, 2024 at 6:00PM
Location: Architecture Lecture Hall (ALH), Dar Al-Handasah Architecture Building, American University of Beirut

This talk draws on his latest book Tolerance Is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial (University of California Press, 2024)

This event is open to the public.

About the Talk

How can a violent project of dispossession and discrimination be imagined, felt, and profoundly believed in as though it were the exact opposite––an embodiment of sustainability, multicultural tolerance, and democratic idealism? Despite well-documented evidence of racism and human rights abuse, Israel has long been embraced by the most liberal sectors of European and American society as a manifestation of the progressive values of tolerance, plurality, inclusivity, and democracy, and hence a project that can be passionately defended for its lofty ideals.  The key to this miraculous act of political alchemy is a very specific form of denial. Here the Palestinian presence in, and claim to, Palestine is not simply refused or covered up, but negated in such a way that the act of denial is itself denied. The effects of destruction and repression are reframed, inverted into affirmations of liberal virtues that can be passionately championed. The genocide in Gaza today is sustained at least in part by this same structure of denial, which has reached its limit to test our understanding of humanity itself.   

About the Speaker

Saree Makdisi teaches English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books include Tolerance is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial; Making England Western: Occidentalism, Race and Imperial Culture; and Reading William Blake