This article examines two overlapping controversies at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 1990s over the attempted censorship of both Robert Mapplethorpe’s show The Perfect Moment and Elia Sulieman’s Palestinian film and video art exhibition Uprising. By analyzing the print news discourse on these controversies, namely, regarding the representations of children in The Perfect Moment and in two of the Uprising films (Children of Fire by Mai Masri and Intifada: Introduction to the End of an Argument by Suleiman and Jayce Salloum), the author articulates how Palestinian cultural politics were constructed as “politically queer” during the 1990s culture wars, which thereby contributed to the rise of homonormativity, increased visibility of leftist LGBTQ-Palestinian solidarity politics, and the development of Israeli pinkwashing as a political strategy. Through this analysis, the article advances a theory of “compulsory Zionism” as a concept through which to analyze the confluence of racial, ethnic, and sexual politics that haunt and animate Palestine solidarity politics in the United States.
An Uprising at The Perfect Moment: Palestine in the 1990s Culture Wars
Umayyah Cable is assistant professor of media studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. They are currently completing a book manuscript on Arab American media activism and the mobilization of Palestine solidarity politics in the United States.
Umayyah Cable; An Uprising at The Perfect Moment: Palestine in the 1990s Culture Wars. GLQ 1 April 2020; 26 (2): 243–272. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-8141830
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