Chiara De Cesari is an anthropologist and assistant professor with a double appointment in European Studies and in Cultural Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She completed her PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Stanford University in 2009 and was a postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University and at the ICI Berlin as well as a lecturer and coordinator of the MA in heritage and museum studies in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University. She is co-editor of the book Transnational Memories: Circulation, Articulation, Scales (de Gruyter, 2014, with Ann Rigney) and is currently finishing a book entitled Heritage and the Struggle for Palestine (under contract with Stanford University Press).

De Cesari is Amsterdam team leader in the EU-funded Horizon 2020 Critical Heritages (CoHERE) project that explores whether and how people feel ‘European’ and is also part of the CHEurope-Critical Heritage Studies and the Future of Europe project, funded under the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks program. Her most recent project explores how Europe imagines itself as a cultural space particularly through its cultural and, more specifically, heritage policies and museums – and, in turn, the image of Europe that these policies institutionalize.

Heritage Beyond the Nation-State:
Palestine and the Politics of Culture

ICI Visiting Project 2010

This project explores the current proliferation of heritage activities and cultural memory practices by ‘civil society’ organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It makes use of ethnography to investigate the ways in which heritage is woven into the political, with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also, more generally, to current transformations of the nation-state and its transnationalization. While heritage conservation has been historically monopolized by the state apparatuses, what is peculiar about Palestinian heritage-making today is that it is mainly produced by local non-governmental organizations entertaining multiple transnational connections.

This project examines the intersection of memory and heritage practices with the nationalist anti-colonial struggle, the current entanglement of heritage promotion with development aid and state-building, the dynamics of Palestinian cultural politics, the peculiar cosmopolitanism of Palestinian heritage and its effects on communities’ life. I am interested in exploring this socio-cultural formation in relation to forms of non-state or counter-governmentality inscribed in a transnational space.