About the Palestine Poster Project Archives

This website has been created to mark headway on my masters' thesis project at Georgetown University. It is a work-in-progress.

I first began collecting Palestine posters when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco in the mid-1970s. By 1980 I had acquired about 300 Palestine posters. A small grant awarded with the support of the late Dr. Edward Said allowed me to organize them into an educational slideshow to further the "third goal" of the Peace Corps: to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Over the ensuing years, while running my design company, Liberation Graphics, the number of internationally published Palestine posters I acquired steadily grew. Today the Archives numbers some 5,000 Palestine posters from myriad sources making it what many library science specialists say is the largest such archives in the world.

The Palestine poster genre dates back to around 1900 and, incredibly, more Palestine posters are designed, printed and distributed today than ever before. Unlike most of the political art genres of the twentieth century such as those of revolutionary Cuba and the former Soviet Union, which have either died off, been abandoned, or become mere artifacts, the Palestine poster genre continues to evolve. Moreover, the emergence of the Internet has exponentially expanded the genre’s network of creative contributors and amplified the public conversation about contemporary Palestine.

My research has two major components: (1) the development of a curriculum using the Palestine poster as a key resource for teaching the formative history of the Palestinian-Zionist conflict in American high schools. This aspect of my work is viewable in my New Curriculum and; (2) the creation of a web-based archives that displays the broadest possible range of Palestine posters in a searchable format with each poster translated and interpreted.

This library and teaching resource allows educators, students, scholars, and other parties interested in using the New Curriculum to incorporate Palestine posters into classroom learning activities. Titles included are from the Liberation Graphics collection, the Library of Congress, the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, Yale University, the University of Chicago and a host of other sources. To facilitate my research I have broken the genre of the Palestine poster into four sources, or wellsprings.

These wellsprings are:

1) Arab and Muslim artists and agencies

2) International artists and agencies

3) Palestinian nationalist artists and agencies

4) Zionist and Israeli artists and agencies

For the purpose of this research project, I have arbitrarily defined a “Palestine” poster as:

1) Any poster with the word “Palestine” in it, in any language, from any source or time period;

2) Any poster created or published by any artist or agency claiming Palestinian nationality or Palestinian participation;

3) Any poster published in the geographical territory of historic Palestine, at any point in history, including contemporary Israel;

4) Any poster published by any source which relates directly to the social, cultural, political, military or economic history of Palestine; and/or

5) Any poster related to Zionism or anti-Zionism in any language, from any source, published after August 31, 1897.

The majority of posters in this archives are printed on paper. However, an increasing number of new Palestine posters are "born digitally" and then printed and distributed locally, oftentimes in very small quantities. This localization represents a sea change in the way political poster art is produced and disseminated. Traditionally, political posters were printed in a single location and then distributed worldwide. The global reach of the internet combined with the rising costs of mass production is shifting production away from large centralized printing operations to a system controlled more by small end-users in myriad locations.

Electronic, digitally created images included in this archives meet these requirements: they are capable of being downloaded and printed out at a size at least as large as 18” X 24” and they deal substantially with the subject of Palestine. Computer generated images will be identified as such. I am uploading posters in what may appear to be a haphazard order; actually the order is a reflection of the way(s) in which many of the posters were originally collected, stored, and digitized on CDs over the past fifteen years.

As time and funds permit, I will be uploading the entire archives.

I want to specifically thank the following people without whose assistance I would not have been able to even begin this research: Dr. Lena Jayyusi, for both her thorough critique of the New Curriculum as well as her steadfast moral support over many years; Dr. Rochelle Davis, my academic advisor at Georgetown who gave me the freedom to explore the questions of most interest to me and who encouraged me to look at the genre from visual anthropology and ethnographic perspectives; Catherine Baker, who has provided creative, editorial and moral support of incalculable value to me and to whom I am forever indebted; Dr. Eric Zakim, the director of the Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park whose translations of the Hebrew text in the Zionist/Israel poster wellspring and whose breadth of knowledge of Zionist history and iconography proved indispensable; Dr. Elana Shohamy of Tel Aviv University for opening up to me the worlds of Jewish language history, Israeli language policy and perhaps most importantly, the principles of language rights, and; Richard Reinhard whose early and complete review of the New Curriculum helped keep me on schedule and in focus.

Special thanks are also due Jenna Beveridge, the Academic Program Coordinator at Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, without whose guidance through the halls of academia I would have been hopelessly lost. There are, in addition, legions of people who over the years have encouraged me to persevere in this work. I will make it a point to thank them at regular intervals in the progress of this project.

Dan Walsh Silver Spring, MD April 2009