A Public Archive of the Intifada Bayanat

Thayer Hastings, Anthropology

The bayanat were circulated from the start of the first Palestinian Intifada (1987) and until its end (1991). Hundreds of these leaflets, single page documents written by the local underground leadership, were distributed door to door by the youth cadres. They included information such as when strikes or marches would take place, analyses of ongoing political situations, directions for specific towns or villages, and many other aspects that related to the everyday life of the rebellion against Israeli rule and settler colonialism.

This project engages in a practice of public research, writing and archiving. Beginning with transcribing, translating and digitizing the bayanat, the web platform will serve as a space for working through the bayanat as an object of study and in an experimental spirit. My writing focuses on a history of the documents and their social lives, and a theoretical engagement with the relevance of these texts for the present. The first effort hopes to provide an answer to how we should read these leaflets and the second engages the question of why these documents occupy a space of nostalgia and relevance for Palestinians today.

The project is designed to culminate in a public blog platform to present originals and translations of the bayanat alongside analyses and a technique for reading the bayanat. This will be an experiment in and a method of doing research, which aims at providing a service to Palestinians and non-Palestinians interested in the first Intifada that marks its 30th anniversary. The curatorial design will seek to re/present the bayanat in a way that supports thinking through the documents as living texts, such as by linking text to specific works of analysis or to contemporary art and activism that references the bayanat or the event being discussed in the text. In addition to the highly documented nature of the first Intifada, this approach can also be useful as a way to commune with other online archives such as the Palestine Poster Archives, Palestine Remembered, The Palestinian Revolution, Palestinian Documentation Center, and the Palestinian Oral History Archive. The blog will primarily be a curatorial project. In doing so, it will also contribute to understanding curation as a research process.

Bayan no.6 issued on 5 February 1988.