By Mona Jebril, PhD

I am not a painter. I am not a photographer either. However, the PhD research experience was so intense for me that I had to find a way of getting out all the thoughts, feelings and stress of writing a PhD on Higher Education (HE) in the Gaza Strip. Painting was one of the things I enjoyed when I was very little.  For years it disappeared from my life as my voice became silenced, witnessing and listening to narratives of oppression on a daily basis, of which I was a part. 

The research experience over five years helped me to recover some of my past memories and reinvigorated my love of painting and photography. For me writing, speaking, listening and painting are one art — the art of knowing oneself, being oneself, acting oneself and remaking oneself with dignity.  In this art book, I share some of the sketches I produced through the process of researching HE under occupation in Gaza.  It includes some of the reflective moments I had not only on my topic, but also on myself.  Although my pictures are artistically basic, and some are not in good shape any more, I feel proud of them. What was even more helpful and interesting about these paintings was that they showed me a reflection of my unconscious voice. During the different stages of the research process, I painted them spontaneously and then pondered on what they meant, which was very relevant to my status at that point in time. The comments below therefore were written in retrospect rather than guiding the painting process.  I also include a few photographs I have personally identified with and pondered about, or simply see as related to my study journey. I hope the reader will enjoy my precious art book.

  • Researchers Art Book


Dr Mona Jebril is a Gates Scholar and a member of Queens’ College Cambridge.  She completed her PhD in Education at Cambridge University in 2017. Mona conducted her PhD research on the topic of “Academic Life Under Occupation” in the Gaza Strip and the impact it has on educationalists at Gaza’s universities, and was supervised by Emeritus Professor Diane Reay. Previously Mona studied for her MSc in higher education in Oxford where she won the Said Foundation Second Prize for academic and personal achievement. Mona has a significant experience as a teacher and trainer at state schools and as a lecturer at two of Gaza’s universities. She is also a co-founder of two centres and a scholarship in Gaza. Mona has also produced four films from her PhD research on Academic Life in Gaza, as well as contributing with articles to academic journals and short pieces to several blogs and newspapers. If you want to know more about Mona, you can visit her personal website and blogor contact her by email. 

N.B: The content of this blog is taken from Appendix 24 of Mona Jebril’s PhD thesis, with adjustments

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