September Issue: “Voice of Resistance” and Palestine’s body politic

For the September issue, we are happy to provide a summary of ‘Voice of resistance’: Rim Banna, cancer and Palestine’s body politic by Abir Hamdar, Durham University.

Dr. Hamdar’s primary research specialism is in modern Middle Eastern literatures, film and cultures with a particular interest in questions of health, illness and disability. Her monograph The Female Suffering Body: Illness and Disability in Modern Arabic Literature (Syracuse University Press, 2014) is the first major study of female physical illness and disability in contemporary Arabic literature of the Levant and Egypt from 1950 to the present.


This essay focuses on the late Palestinian artist Rim Banna’s experience of breast cancer and the ways in which this experience is intertwined with the colonial history of her native homeland. To begin with, Banna’s work as a singer, songwriter, composer and activist was always deeply enmeshed in Palestinian history, culture and folklore. However, as the essay argues, this facet of her work took on a more political dimension following her breast cancer diagnosis in 2006. Drawing on Banna’s music and songs, her interviews and public obituaries in the wake of her death, the essay highlights the ways in which Banna politicizes her breast cancer experience by rendering it a metaphor for the colonial situation of Palestine. The essay concludes that throughout her 9-year battle with cancer, Banna’s physical body becomes aligned with Palestine’s body politic.

You can listen to some of Banna’s music by following the links below:

[From her album The Mirrors of My Soul]

[From her album  Voice of Resistance]

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities Journal website.


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