Workshop rethinking “occupations” – Duke University

Thursday – Friday, March 28-29, 2013
FHI Garage – C105, Bay 4, 1st Floor, Smith Warehouse
Franklin Humanities Institute
Duke University

During the last year a new type of political struggle has emerged in numerous places around the globe, in which activists of all kinds “occupy” public spaces, or turn private spaces public through their “occupation” for relatively long periods of time. “Occupying” has come to designate the main organizing practice of what seems to be a new type of non-governmental politic. It defines a space of action, a form of co-existence and partnership, modes of interaction with governments and media, and a basis for global collaboration. In the occupied spaces citizenship is re-imagined and re-thought, the multitudes emerge in new forms, the system under which they are ruled and governed are questioned with a long forgotten vigor, and power is both sought and challenged in new ways.

However, in this workshop we wish to think the “occupying movement” in relation to the more standard meanings of occupation, both as social role and profession that the market determines and distributes, and as a condition of rule in which the government is not accountable to the ruled population. Demonstrators in the Middle East and elsewhere carried posters saying “Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine”. The contrast is simple and straightforward, but it points to a much more complex field of relation between the visible oppression and subjugation characteristic of Palestine, where military occupation has lasted longer than any existing occupation, and the more subtle interplay of freedom and oppression demonstrated in each and every occupied public (or semi-public) square.


Public Space in the contemporary mediterranean areas

Posted: 12.12.2012

Wake Forest University 15 e 16 dicembre 2012


Return to Jaffa and Right to Mobility

Posted: 08.10.2012

Finally on line the two latest DAAR@Berlage’s projects: return to jaffa, an architectural and archeological investigation on the Jaffa beach, and right to mobility , ideas for the re-activation of the Ottoman ancient railway once connecting the entire Middle East.

Can the camp be the new urban paradigm beyond the notion of the state?

Posted: 23.06.2012

In occasion of THE BERLAGE YEAREND PUBLIC EVENT AND EXHIBITION, roundtable discussion “Can the camp be the new urban paradigm beyond the notion of the state?” based on the second-year postgraduate studio entitled “Return to the Common” with Ole Bouman, Lieven De Cauter, Galit Eliat, Manuel Herz, Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, and Dietmar Steiner (Tuesday, June 26 – from 11.00 am to 01.30 pm, DE DEPENDANCE, Rotterdam)

SYMPOSIUM, 26—27 JUNE 2012, DE DEPENDANCE, Rotterdam
On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 26 and 27, the Berlage Institute will host a two-day event of lectures, roundtable discussions, film screenings, and question-and-answer sessions inspired by the conversations taking place in its 2011–2012 postgraduate design research studios. An accompanying exhibition will open on Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00 pm, remaining on view until Sunday, August 12.

full program

Transforming Assembly @ James Gallery, CUNY graduate center

Posted: 14.06.2012

Students of all ages from across New York City will come together to celebrate access to public education, in collaboration with DAAR’s exhibition Common Assembly. Through physical and digital archiving, printmaking, collaborative mapping, film and new media, poetry, performance, and anthropological field notes, participants will open alternative spaces for assembly and pedagogy.

Facebook event:
The James Gallery, the General Assembly of the Graduate Center, OpenCUNY, and the Center for the Humanities invite you to “Transforming Assembly,” a week-long collaborative installation curated by students of the City University of New York in collaboration with the James Gallery artists in residence, DAAR. 
High school, undergraduate, and graduate students from across the city will celebrate access to public education. Through physical and digital archiving, printmaking, collaborative mapping, film and new media, as well as performative readings of poetry and anthropological field notes, participants will open an alternative space of assembly.


Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal at Festarch, Friday 8th June 2012

Posted: 29.05.2012

Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal come back to Italy after some years to describe their work with the collective DAAR. The architecture becomes a real political practice and an instrument of decolonization.

Friday 8th June 2012
Teatro Morlacchi
Piazza Francesco Morlacchi 19, Perugia


Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Politics

Posted: 24.05.2012

Visual Culture | Politics
$36.95 | £25.95 cloth 978-1-935408-24-6
664 pp. | 17 color, 114 b&w illus. | 6 x 9
Available November 2012

“The Morning After: Profaning Colonial Architecture” by DAAR in the new book edited by Meg McLagan and Yates McKee

Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism considers the constitutive role played by aesthetic and performative techniques in the staging of claims by nongovernmental activists. Attending to political aesthetics means focusing not on a disembodied image that travels under the concept of art or visual culture, nor on a preformed domain of the political that seeks subsequent expression in media form. Instead, it requires bringing the two realms together into the same analytic frame. Drawing on the work of a diverse group of contributors, from art historians, anthropologists, and political theorists to artists, filmmakers, and architects, Sensible Politics situates aesthetic forms within broader activist contexts and networks of circulation and in so doing offers critical insight into the practices of mediation whereby the political becomes manifest.


Campus in Camps: experimental educational platforms and practice-led interventions in Palestinian Refugee Camps

Posted: 06.05.2012

Campus in Camps is an experimental educational program that aims at transgressing, without eliminating, the distinction between camp and city, refugee and citizen, center and periphery, theory and practice, teacher and student. Every year, Campus in Camps brings together fifteen participants from West Bank refugee camps in an attempt to explore and produce a new form of representation of camps and refugees beyond the static and traditional symbols of victimization, passivity and poverty. This initiative stems from the recognition that refugee camps in the West Bank are in a process of a historical political, social and spatial transformation. Despite adverse political and social conditions Palestinian refugee camps have developed a relatively autonomous and independent social and political space: no longer a simple recipient of humanitarian intervention but rather an active political subject. The camp becomes a site of social invention and suggests new political and spatial configurations. The refugee camp is transformed from a marginalized urban area to a center of social and political life. More notable is that such radical transformations have not normalized the political condition of being exiled. For decades, the effects of the political discourse around the right of return, such as the rise of a resolute imperative to stagnate living circumstances in refugee camps in order to reaffirm the temporariness of the camps, forced many refugees to live in terrible conditions. What emerges today is a reconsideration of this imperative where refugees are re-inventing social and political practices that improve their everyday life without normalizing the political exceptional condition of the camp itself. After sixty years of exile, the camps are now viewed as the village of origin: a cultural and social product to preserve and remember. What is at stake in this program is the possibility for the participants to realize interventions in camps without normalizing their conditions or merely subsuming the camp within the rest of the city. Campus in Camps aims to provide a protected context in which to accompany and reinforce such complex and crucial changes in social practices and representations. We believe that the future of the refugee camps and their associated spatial, social and political regime force us to re-think the very idea of the city as a space of political representation through the consideration of the camp as a counter-laboratory for new spatial and social practices.

Campus in Camps is a programme by Al Quds University (Al Quds/Bard Partnership) and hosted by the Phoenix Center in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. It is implemented with the support of the GIZ Regional Social and Cultural Fund for Palestinian Refugees and Gaza Population on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in cooperation with UNRWA Camp Improvement Department.

The Least of All Possible Evils – Eyal Weizman and Thomas Keenan

Posted: 22.04.2012

Apr 28, 2012, 11:00am | The James Gallery

On the occasion of the exhibition Common Assembly by DAAR—Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency in the James Gallery and the publication of his book The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza(Verso), Eyal Weizman will conduct a seminar in two parts. First, Weizman will lecture on Palestine and DAAR’s practice, which proposes the subversion, reuse, profanation and recycling of the existing infrastructure of a colonial occupation. This will be followed by a conversation with Tom Keenan about how to think and act propositionally about human rights, right of return, and common claims, as well as sovereignty and territorialization today.


Alessandro Petti at CORNELL, CUNY, MIT

Posted: 23.03.2012


The Camp as Political Project

Since its invention in colonial territories, the “camp form” has been used as an instrument for exceptional regimes in which citizens are stripped from their political rights. Despite the more recent scholarly works has been able to locate the figure of the refugee and its associate spatial dimension the camp as central critical category of our present spatial political organization, the refugee is reduce to a passive subject, lacking an independent and autonomous political subjectivity and the camps are looked at only as a site of marginalization and exclusion. In this paper I’ll will present emerging spatial practices and projects in refugee camps in Palestine, which not only challenge the idea of camps as site of humanitarian intervention but they suggests new political, social and spatial configurations. Refugee camps are today site from which we have to start to re-think the very idea of the city as a space of political representation, thinking the camp as a laboratory for spatial and political practices yet to come.



April 16 CUNY

Common Assembly

For the occasion of DAAR’s exhibition at The James Gallery – Center for the humanities, Alessandro Petti’s lecture will deal with new forms of political action and association – collective protests —  in the Middle East and around the world. The term Common Assembly comes to name a radical form of political participation and collective actions that has been used, in different variations, within different contexts of revolutionary protest from Cairo’s Tahrir square to the stairs of St Paul’s cathedral. These forums of action have changed the meaning of political categories: The Common — a form of space different from both public and private, sometimes extracted from them in which an immanent form of association replaces state regulated form of publicity. The situation against which protest occurred is that in which the “public” no longer belonged to the “people” —  rather to regime performance or to private capital accumulation. The act of cleaning in Tahrir Square was the manifestation of turning the public into the common. Assembly – a form of immanent political association and decision-making process that is distinct from the Parliamentary form. Assemblies are contingent, temporary, networked, expanding and contracting, always directed at action.  Could we think of Palestinians camps not as places of refuge but rather as those of assembly?  Spaces from where a new political ideas and form of action could arise?  Where political participation and representation are organized beyond the idea of nation-state? Occupation — a word that the current landscape of events seem to be in the process of decolonizing. It is extracted from the jaws of the military jargon into a form of direct action that aim at dismantling existing system of power. It is true that new media played an important role to mobilizing and organizing the protests. However it was the prolonged physical occupation of the spaces that created the possibility of political change. Common Assemblies pop up in different slippages and cracks in property and land systems: a park whose jurisdiction is ambiguous, in the relative extraterritoriality of a church land within the extraterritorial frame of the city of London, public roundabouts in Cairo and Bahrain. Isn’t it reveling that the Bahrain military forces destroyed the Pearl roundabout — reiterating! — rather then demolishing –  the  potential power of space and spatial construction. The lecture would like to engage the public around the nature of the these forms of political participation and action.



April 18 MIT

A Program for an Architectural Decolonization

Since its establishment five years ago, DAAR, the architectural collective and art residency program based in Palestine, has developed a series of projects that today could be understood retroactively as a pragmatic and visionary program for an Architectural decolonization of Palestine. DAAR’s projects suggest revisiting the largely discredited term of decolinization in order to maintain a distance from the current political language of a “solution” to the Palestinian conflict and its respective borders. The one-state, two-state, and now three-state solutions seem equally entrapped in their respective “top-down” expert perspective, each with its own self-referential logic. Decolonization, on the contrary, seeks to unleash a process of open-ended transformation toward the goals of equality and justice. It looks for and finds cracks where potential for transformation and reuse of the existing dominant structures, architectural infrastructural and legal, could be found. It is a sometimes confrontational, at other times cunning approach to the reality of occupation and dispossession. Decolonization is a counter apparatus that seeks to restore to common use, to fantasy and play, what the colonial order had separated and divided. The goal of decolonization is the construction of counterapparatuses that find new uses for the abandoned structures of domination. These uses are sometimes pragmatic and at other times ironic or provocative challenges. As such, “decolonization” is never achieved, but is an ongoing practice of deactivation and reorientation understood both in its presentness and in its endlessness. DAAR’s projects do not articulate a utopia of ultimate satisfaction. Rather they try to mobilize architecture as a tactical tool within the unfolding struggle for Palestine. They seeks to employ tactical physical interventions to open a possible horizon for further transformations.