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City Design (MA)

Mingxuan Guo

This project archives oral history concerned with the Sebastia community, a history constantly targeted and actively erased by Israeli apartheid.

Sebastia, an archaeological site northwest of the city of Nablus in the West Bank, is a land of great significance to Christianity. Legend has it that John the Baptist was imprisoned here and beheaded. Multiple churches over the centuries were built in his honour in Sebastia.

Although, this particular history is not the only one significant in Sebastia, given its multilayered and complex strata. Singular narratives, like that of John the Baptist, but others more relevant to the old testament that are more interesting to the zionist settlers across the valley, have become a tool for control and weaponization of the archaeological site. These singular narratives, now performed by settler groups, archaeologists, religious leaders, and so on, are also used as a way to capture and occupy more land and dispossess the Palestinian community from their own property. With the support of the Israeli government and armed military, these groups have banned Palestinian access to the archaeological sites on multiple occasions, often denied access to their own homes and businesses.

As a response, this project then documents and archives the other narratives, collected and orated by the Palestinian community in order to preserve the culture and the residents' memory of the village. This was done in collaboration with the community on the ground, and in hopes that the archive will remain available for the community itself, Palestinians in the diaspora that are originally from Sebastia and have no access to return, as well as to other researchers and artists possibly interested in the content.

sound archive website

Sound has a very powerful presence. When there is a physical barrier, we cannot see or touch the other side of the wall but hear the sound coming across or from above. When we close our eyes and don't look at what is in front of us, sound can still be transmitted through vibrations. Through sound, we can break through distance to experience the culture of Sebastia, the memory of its people, and their situation under occupation and destruction.

History cannot be transmitted without sight and sound. While artefacts and written records can be looted and destroyed, the history that exists in the minds of the current generation will still be transmitted through their oral voices. The sound archive is a combination of the visual and the auditory in an audio visualisation that can be found on the website. This sound archive will become a record and evidence that will transcend time and space.

sound archive website
sound archive website