If knowledge is considered as incorporated in activities and events, a monolithic reality is no longer waiting to be uncovered, but multiple realities are coming into being through different sets of practices. In the Israeli negev desert, home demolition of unauthorized Arab-bedouin villages is a contested issue, enacting multiple and contradictory realities. The tents and shacks of el-Shams, for instance, have been demolished nearly ten times in one year by the Israeli police, but each time they have been reconstructed with the help of human rights activists. Surprisingly, and in contrast to nearly all circulating discourses, nobody ever lived in the demolished buildings - what at one level becomes a humanitarian catastrophe, at another becomes a “ghost village.”
Drawing on recent reflections on global ethnography, this article seeks to follow “zones of friction” and connections among people, money, discourses, and emotions that developed around this specific case: relations that range from solidarity activities to the discursive practices of journalists and dislocated officials of international organizations. On a more abstract level, the emerging contradictions between these levels reveal the implications of an uncritically reproduced idea of “local community.” I claim that by following such connections, we gain important insights into how transnational power relations are shaping multiple realities around a political conflict.