Welcoming Visiting Scholar, Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh


The Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University is pleased to host the recipient of the Fulbright Visiting Senior Scholar Award for the academic year 2015-2016, Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh. The award provides an opportunity for Palestinian professors residing in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza to lecture and/or do research at institutions in the United States.

Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh is a poet and academic born in Jerusalem to a Palestinian refugee family from Ramlah. He is an associate professor of philosophy, and cultural and Arab studies at Birzeit University. AlShaikh's work is focused on cultural representations and the politics of Palestinian identity, in addition to his works on Arab poetry, art criticism, and translation.

As a Fulbright Scholar, he will spend the 2015-1016 academic year at the Center for Palatine Studies-Columbia University working on his project The Palestinian Living Cemetery. Given the theoretical paradigm shift from bio-power to necro-politics throughout the last decade, his research aspires to instigate scholarly interest in the highly subversive spatio-temporal epitaphs of the Palestinian cemetery. Situated at the heart of the intersection between necro-politics and necro-semiotics, his project utilizes the conception of the cemetery as both a heterotopia and a heterochronia, 'within' which people are capable of both deconstructing and re-constructing not only their geography, but also their history. After building a comprehensive photo-archive of epitaphs from Palestinian cemeteries (within and outside historic Palestine), Al-Shaikh's current book aspires to establish a methodic taxonomy by which he can study the "Sub-terrain Nakba," that is, the concealed features of the political, social, and cultural histories of modern Palestine.


Al-Shaikh earned his Ph.D. in Middle East and Arab Studies at the University of Utah, after which he conducted his postdoctoral research in cultural mobility in near-eastern cultures at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Since 2004, he has been a fellow at both Muwatin-The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy and the Institute of Palestine Studies. He is the author of: Sharon's Golden Heart: A Mythical Trial (2007), Palestinian Textbooks: Issues of Identity and Citizenship (2008), and The Biography of Gabi Baramki and His Odyssey at Birzeit University 1929-2012 (2015). He translated Hussein Barghouthi's autobiography al-Daw' al-Azraq (The Blue Light) into English (2003), and Oz Shelach's Picnic Grounds (2010) into Arabic. He has published three collections of poetry: Ash Wheels (1998), City Remnants (2003), and Departing Narratives (2012). His forthcoming book is titled:The Columbus Syndrome and the Veiling of Palestine: A Genealogy of the Israeli Politics of Toponymy of the Palestinian Landscape 1856-2015 (by the Institute of Palestine Studies, 2015).