Sarah Aziza (C ‘14) is a Palestinian American writer based in New York City, but who has called the Middle East home for much of her life. She proudly draws from her refugee and diasporic roots to create art from a position of marginality, queerness, and partiality. Within this framework, she is informed by her career as a journalist and her academic background in Middle East studies, comparative literature, and Arabic scholarship. She draws on a variety of forms, including personal and family history, post-colonial and feminist studies, archival documents, pop culture, and transnationalism to examine the ways legibility is granted or withheld. She aims to create work that simultaneously uplifts marginalized stories while questioning the ways narration can be used to oppress and silence. She asks, how might we proliferate forms of language and being in the world, while cultivating a productive mistrust of authorship itself?
Her book-in-progress is a blend of memoir, research, poetry, and speculative non-fiction exploring the interplay of erasure and narration. She seeks to challenge the forced clarity of power by inviting its opposite—writing that is fragmentary, paradoxical, and a little bit obscure. She revels in untranslatability, experimenting with multiple languages on the page and “queering” discourses of power to make poetic mischief. In this way, she incorporates and speaks back to multiple legacies of narration—from attempts by imperial powers to dictate the terms of their subjects’ lives to Cold War propaganda aimed at ‘winning hearts and minds’ in the ‘Third World’ to the brunt force of market capitalism. Drawing inspiration from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Audre Lorde, Saidiya Hartman, Solmaz Sharif, Sara Ahmed, and others, Aziza explores in the cracks in these brittle structures on her way to imagining new narratives of past and present.