Eyal Sivan

Common Archive
refugees, return, oral history, reconciliation

This talk will expose the theoretical background of a on going research on the strategies of redeeming perpetrators narrative and perpetrators’ testimonies as part of a media project untitled “The common archive” using the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign in Palestine as a case study.
“The common archive” concept is an attempt to rethink oral history visual archival material in order to become a base for truth and reconciliation, transitional justice and joint/common historical narratives. The common archive concept aims to challenge binary opposition such as: victims/perpetrators, dominating/domineer, male/female, manager/employee, colonizer/colonized in order to propose ways of creating common narratives, acknowledging that such a combination is the base for future narrative and therefore a condition for any bridging of conflicts.

Recollection of testimonies concerning ‘traumatic events’ or ‘conflict situation’ is usually based on victims’ testimonies. Wail actors or perpetrators witnessing are usually referred as official material (documents etc.) in many cases the perpetrator testimony is not in contradiction with the victims one, (Ex. South Africa truth and reconciliation, IPC, new historians in Israel/Palestine, Hilberg’s work on the Nazi Genocide etc.) Nevertheless there are no examples of joint archives as such. This research project aims to create a visual media archive data base as well as its specific classification and research engine of visual oral history testimonies by perpetrators of political collective crimes.

Film Screening
Aqabat-Jaber - Peace with no return?
Documentary, 61 minutes, colour, 16mm, Arabic s/t, France, 1995

The question of the right to return of the Palestinian refugees to their lands and homes mostly destroyed during the 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign in Palestine is the key issue for any attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Seven years after having made the film
"Aqabat-Jaber, Passing-through" just before the first Palestinian upraising the Intifada in 1987, Eyal Sivan returns to the Aqabat-Jaber refugee camp on the day after the evacuation of the region by the Israeli army. Build in 1949 few kilometres from the city of Jericho; Aqabat-Jaber was at the time the largest Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East. Following the Oslo agreement in 1994 the camp become under Palestinian autonomous authority. Its 3,000 inhabitants have not however seen their status change, they are still refugees and cannot go back to the villages from which their parents fled. Aqabat-Jaber, Peace with no return? Is articulated around the question is there a possibly of ‘peace’ without the return of the refugees? Highlighting the complex relation and contradiction between life improvement and the political discourse on The Return.

Eyal Sivan is a London based Filmmaker, producer, essayist and scholar. Currently Sivan is Reader (Research Professor) in Media production at the Matrix East Research Lab (MERL) School of Social Science,Media & Cultural Studies, University of East London. He directed more then 10 worldwide awarded feature-length political documentaries and produced many others. His cinematographic works were shown and awarded various prizes in prestigious festivals. Sivan is the founder and Chief Editor of 'Cinema South Notebooks' in Israel - a journal of cinema and Political critic, and editor as member of the editorial board of the Paris based publishing house ‘La Fabrique’. He’s member of the editorial board and columnist at the French social studies journal 'De l'Autre Côté'. Among is films: Izkor-slaves of Memory (1990); Itsembatsemba-Rwanda one genocide later (1996); The specialist (1999); Route 181-fragments of a journey in Palestine-Israel (2003), Aus Liebe zum Volk (pour l’amour du people) (2004)

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