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Sary Zananiri


Dr. S.E.S. Zananiri
+31 71 527 2727

Sary Zananiri is an artist and cultural historian. His interests sit at the intersection of religion, colonialism and visual culture with a focus on the ways in which social and cultural histories can explicate the political. He completed his PhD at Monash University looking at the confluence of 19th-century Western colonial imaging of the Palestinian landscape and Zionist narrative. He works on the NWO project 'CrossRoads: European Cultural Diplomacy and Arab Christians in Palestine 1918-1948' led by Dr Karène Sanchez as well as the Netherlands Institute for the Near East as the Frank Scholten Postdoctoral Researcher.

More information about Sary Zananiri


Zananiri is primarily interested in the interplay between religion, colonialism and visual culture. His interdisciplinary approach engages with the ways in which cultural production is mobilised for political purpose, and how this explicates the social and cultural implications of political histories.

His PhD considered the ways in which 19th-century Western cultural production actively biblified the Palestinian landscape in the construction of the Western biblical imaginary through photography. Since then he has been focusing on nuances between different European and North American approaches the imaging of the Palestinian landscape and the ways in which 19th-century photographic practices have been remediated to film and other popular culture.

As the Frank Scholten Postdoctoral Researcher for the Netherlands Institute for the Near East he is working directly with Frank Scholten photographic collection, with particular focus on Dutch approaches to Palestine. The Scholten collection gives us a unique insight into post-Ottoman communalism through the lens of pillarisation, but also a rare glimpse of transnational queer life in the early Mandate period.

Within CrossRoads, Zananiri is working on the subproject Between the Holy Land and the Mediterranean: the Arab Orthodox community of Palestine. This project takes a comparative approach to cultural production in Orthodox communities between Mandate Palestine and Greece and Russia. Research on cultural production focuses on two main areas. The first is the ways in which secular, modern art practices developed from practices of iconography, paralleling the rise of nationalisms related to Orthodoxy. The second looks at specifically at Christian Arab cultural produc tion for tourist-pilgrim markets with particular focus on the ways artists, as individual agents, made use of the Palestinian art market in proffering a mode of cultural diplomacy.

As well as writing widely on art, photography, cinema, visual culture, politics and history, with Zananiri's training in practice-led-research, he also maintains an art practice. His work has been exhibited in Australia, China and the Middle East. He has also completed a number of large scale commissions in collaboration with Beth Arnold, the most notable is Within Foundations in Officer, Australia, completed in 2012.

He has also curated a number of exhibitions, mostly for the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art as well as a number of independent galleries and museums. In 2016, he was the Artistic Director for the Palestinian Film Festival in Australia, which toured nationally. Apart from academic writing, he has also produced a number of exhibition catalogues.


PhD Fine Arts, Monash University, 2014
B Fine Arts (Honours), Monash University 2004
B Visual Arts (Object Art & Design), Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney 2003


October 2019- October 2021
Frank Scholten postdoctoral researcher
Netherlands Institute for the Near East
Leiden University, the Netherlands

September 2018 – July 2022
Postdoctoral Fellow
NWO project ‘CrossRoads: European Cultural diplomacy and Arab Christians’
Leiden University, The Netherlands

February 2014 – July 2018
Unit Coordinator and Associate Lecturer
Monash Art, Design and Architecture
Monash University, Australia

March – July 2017
Associate Lecturer
History department
Latrobe University, Australia

Digitisation Assistant February – June 2015
Photographic Services Department
ARC funded project
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia

Co-Director 2014-2016
Palestinian Film Festival, Australia

Curatorial Researcher 2010 – 2011
Experimenta Media Arts, Melbourne, Australia

Visiting Lecturer October – November 2008
International Academy of Art Palestine, Ramallah


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL postdoc

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 1.18



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