To Exist is to Resist: Documenting Biodiversity in Occupied Palestine

Nestled into a crowded Bethlehem hillside, just downhill from a Christian nunnery, and just uphill from a rocky field used by Palestinian shepherds to graze their flocks, you’ll find the Palestine Museum of Natural History. This place is no static catalog of the past – the activists here are redefining the concept of a museum. They’ve created an institution which advocates for Palestinian rights, by connecting the people to their homeland in an unusual way: through ecology.
 
In Palestine, ‘connecting to the land’ is a necessarily political act. The landscape is crisscrossed by walls and checkpoints, and to move through it is to be bombarded by conflicting statements of land ownership and political power. Complex borders are drawn, and redrawn, and redrawn, in an attempt to legally codify what is and is not ‘homeland.’ And after a century of colonial dispute over land ownership, the land itself has become polluted and fractured. The museum’s response has been to connect to the land not just politically, but also biologically.
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