Dissonant Archives
Fig. 1. Dissonant Archives. Courtesy of I.B.Tauris, 2015.

I.B.Tauris published a book titled "Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Competing Narratives in the Middle East" edited by Anthony Downey.

Publication Data

Downey, Anthony (Ed.). Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Competing Narratives in the Middle East. I.B.Tauris, 2015. ISBN: 9781784534110.


The 'archive' is often viewed as a collection of historical documents that records and orders information about people, places and events. This view nevertheless obscures a crucial point: the archive, whilst subject to the vagaries of time and history, can also determine the future. This point has gained urgency in modern-day North Africa and the Middle East where the archive has come to the fore as a site of social, historical, theoretical, and political contestation. Dissonant Archives is the first book to consider the ways in which contemporary artists from the Middle East and North Africa - including Emily Jacir, Walid Raad, Jananne Al Ani, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Mariam Ghani, Zineb Sedira, and Akram Zaatari - are utilizing and disrupting the function of the archive and, in so doing, highlighting a systemic, perhaps irrevocable, crisis in institutional and state-ordained archiving across the region. In exploring and producing archives, be they alternative, interrogative or fictional, these artists are not simply questioning the authenticity, authority or authorship of the archive; rather, they are unlocking its regenerative, radical potential.

The result provides essential insights into the nexus between art and politics in the contemporary Middle East.

About the Author

Anthony Downey is an academic, editor, and writer. Recent and upcoming publications include Art and Politics Now (2014); Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East (I.B.Tauris, 2014); and Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue (2015). He is currently researching Zones of Indistinction: Performative Ethics and Late Modernity (forthcoming, 2016).

To order the book online visit the I.B.Tauris website.