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Sun, 05 Mar


Better Read Than Dead

Author talk with Saree Makdisi

Join Saree Makdisi as he discusses the release of, Tolerance is a Wasteland, Palestine and the Culture of Denial. Saree will be in conversation with Lana Tatour.

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Author talk with Saree Makdisi
Author talk with Saree Makdisi

Time & Location

05 Mar 2023, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Better Read Than Dead, 265 King St, Newtown NSW 2042, Australia


About The Event

How denial sustains the liberal imagination of a progressive and democratic Israel. The question that this book aims to answer might seem simple: 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. 

Tolerance Is a Wasteland argues that 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. In Tolerance Is a Wasteland, Saree Makdisi explores many such acts of affirmation and denial in a range of venues: from the haunted landscape of thickly planted forests covering the ruins of Palestinian villages forcibly depopulated in 1948; to the theater of "pinkwashing" as Israel presents itself to the world as a gay-friendly haven of cultural inclusion; to the so-called Museum of Tolerance being built on top of the ruins of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem, which was methodically desecrated in order to clear the space for this monument to "human dignity." Tolerance Is a Wasteland reveals the system of emotional investments and curated perceptions that makes this massive project of cognitive dissonance possible.

About Saree

Saree Makdisi is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. His most recent book is Tolerance is a Wasteland: Palestine and the Culture of Denial, winner of the Palestine Book Awards in 2022.  His other books include Making England Western: Occidentalism, Race, and Imperial Culture; Reading William Blake; and Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

About Lana

Lana Tatour is an Assistant Professor in Global Development in the School of Social Science at the University of New South Wales. She was the 2019–20 Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. She is currently completing a book provisionally titled Ambivalent Resistance: Palestinians in Israel and the Liberal Politics of Settler Colonialism and Human Rights.


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