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The Typewriter Project

 
 

What is the Typewriter Project? 

The Typewriter Project on-going socially-engaged art project which aims to illuminate the issue of sexual harassment and assault and to open an honest and uncensored dialogue amongst people affected by said harassment.

The project takes its physical form in the shape of a typewriter, typically used in Palestine to type-up the Israeli travel permits required for Palestinians to leave and enter the country. In this instance, the medium is used to type up stories which open uncensored dialogue in public spaces around gender and sexual misconduct.

In sharing personal stories in public spaces, participants are shattering societal norms which deem such topics as taboo.  These stories expose and humanize gender-based issues often tolerated, politicized or brushed under the rug.

 
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How did the project start?

On October 4th, 2017, Yasmeen Mjalli set up a typewriter on Clock Circle in Ramallah, Palestine to document women's stories of street harassment. This project eventually came to be the Typewriter project, an on-going series aiming to engage the public in a conversation about the gender-based oppression, discrimination, and violence in Palestine. The project has taken place twice on Clock Circle, twice at Bard-Al Quds University, Bethlehem University, and Birzeit University.  Since its origin in Palestine, it has expanded globally to Rome and the US. In 2018, the project visited seven US university campuses including Harvard, Brown and Tulane.

 
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Where is the project going this year?

The Typewriter and Lecture Tour will visit the following universities: USC, Stanford, Washington University, University of Chicago, Middlebury, New York University, Duke. Each stop will feature a lecture illuminating feminism in Palestine as shaped by British colonization, Israeli military occupation, and contemporary Western stereotypes of Muslim Arab women. This will be woven into the micro-narrative as started by a typewriter on the streets of Ramallah. The aim of the lecture is to explore the simultaneous universality and hyper-localism of feminist movements.

 

Why storytelling?

We believe in storytelling for two particularly important reasons.

(1) Storytelling is a critical aspect of both individual and collective healing. The BabyFist family is built on the freedom and safety to find your voice and share your story. Speaking out under norms which seek to bury our voices is difficult, yet recovering our voices after what may be a lifetime of burial is a different challenge altogether, especially when it means forcing ourselves into the unfamiliar.

The key to healing and growth is knowing your voice and its worth. We ask men, women, and everyone in-between to share their stories because we know that the first step of personal healing and collective change comes from expression.

(2) Storytelling bridges the divide between communities often pitted against one another, and acknowledges that human struggle is universal and not inherent to a particular community. It is often perceived that gendered oppression and sexual misconduct happens “over there” or “only here.” In inviting people in various and seemingly distinct communities to share their stories, humanizing commonalities are drawn and used as a means to challenge these stereotypes.

 
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Where has the project taken place?

  • Clock Circle, Ramallah, Palestine

  • Birzeit University, Abu dis, Palestine

  • Bethlehem University, Bethlehem, Palestine

  • Forte Penestrino, Rome, Italy

  • WEGIL, Rome, Italy

  • Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

  • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

  • Brown University, Providence, RI

  • Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA

  • Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

  • Emory University, Atlanta, GA

  • UNC Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

 

 

The Story Gallery

Browse a small selection of the hundreds of stories we’ve collected since the start of the project in October 2017: