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‘Voice of resistance’: Rim Banna, cancer and Palestine’s body politic
  1. Abir Hamdar
  1. School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University, Durham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Abir Hamdar, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University, Durham DH1 3JT, UK; abir.hamdar{at}


This essay offers a cultural anatomy of Palestinian artist Rim Banna’s post-illness body, from her cancer diagnosis, through her death and into the commemorations that ensued. The essay draws on Banna’s music, her interviews, as well as the public obituaries in the wake of her death, to argue that her cancer (and other chronic health issues) have not only been transformed into an allegory or metaphor for the colonial situation of Palestine but into the site for a poetics of Palestinian unity and resistance. In conclusion, the essay observes how the posthumous release of Banna’s last album is the culmination of this becoming-political of cancer.

  • metaphor
  • medical humanities
  • music
  • politics
  • women's health

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  • Contributors AH is the sole author of this essay.

  • Funding The study was funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.