Collectives – spaces of shared interest – hold great importance in the Middle East. Too often we perceive a monolithic Middle Eastern narrative reflective of ruling politics and foreign affairs, yet small, indigenous collectives offer alternative voices and uplift silent narratives throughout the region. Producing knowledge in many realms, from film to art to politics, these following Middle Eastern (and diaspora) collectives are doing crucial work to bring inclusivity and transform the Middle East for all.
A small all-women collective based in UAE and Western Europe, the Banat Collective is a platform by and for artists in the Arab world. From art exhibitions to panels to featured articles, Banat Collective has an extensive online platform and frequently has calls for article submissions.
Habibi Collective is an independent, open-access resource of over 400 films from women filmmakers from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Started by Róisín Tapponi, an Iraqi-Irish young woman, Habibi Collective was started as a way to find representation of her Arab identity within film. Archived on Instagram, the collective also has held in-person screenings and has co-created two film festivals: a Queer MENA Online Film Festival and Sudanese Experimental Film Festival.
Founded in 2018, LIFTA is a multidisciplinary platform that explores and interrogates the narratives, histories and issues of the Middle East and North Africa. Their inaugural book, Future Palestine, centers work from emerging artists, writers, poets, curators, and researchers from Palestine and its diaspora. The theme, Future Palestine, aims to step away from the past or present, to see beyond the limitations of current affairs, rhetoric and memory to ask questions pertaining to the realm of the imaginary.
(Image credit: LIFTA website)