Maps are considered to be an ultimate expression of modernity. Empirical cartography plays a central role in daily governance, and it also has a long history of furthering displacement and erasure. In this article I argue that the landscapes of historic British colonialism and the ongoing Israeli occupation influence the digital maps made by the Palestinian Authority. Through an investigation into the borders, roads, and urban areas of one such map and its related scientific practices, I analyze how knowledge of the occupation is shaped by the occupation. Drawing upon widespread Palestinian efforts to strengthen sumud (steadfastness), I develop the concept of stasis as the ability to remain in place. Researchers have rightly pointed to restrictions on Palestinians’ movements, but greater attention should be paid to attempts to limit stasis, both within and beyond the West Bank. The detailed study of mobility and stasis, as well as other material asymmetries of research, can enable more imaginative maps and more heterogeneous passages for the production of knowledge.
Palestinian State Maps and Imperial Technologies of Staying Put
Jess Bier is an assistant professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Previously she was a postdoctoral researcher in the Monitoring Modernity group with Willem Schinkel at the same university. Her first book, Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine: How Occupied Landscapes Shape Scientific Knowledge, is forthcoming in 2017, and her website is jessbier.org. In her work overall, she analyzes geographies of scientific and technical knowledge.
Jess Bier; Palestinian State Maps and Imperial Technologies of Staying Put. Public Culture 1 January 2017; 29 (1 (81)): 53–78. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-3644397
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