Using Israel’s land-grabbing practices alongside its demographic classifications as a conceptual lens, this article advances two claims: one about biospatial strategies, including the construction of space as a racialized category, and the other historical. The article shows that the particular biospatial scaffolding underlying Israel’s colonial project has deployed similar strategies of dispossession and settling across the entire territory located between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. Simultaneously, it draws a connection between these strategies and statistical classifications and techniques of enumeration to delineate Israel’s efforts to racialize the appropriated space. Historically, the article identifies a boomerang trajectory, beginning with the massive confiscation and Judaization of Palestinian land in the wake of the 1948 war, then extending and duplicating many of the practices originally developed inside Israel to the West Bank in 1967, and finally turning back inward to solidify the racialization of land within Israel.
Israel’s Biospatial Politics: Territory, Demography, and Effective Control
Yinon Cohen is a professor of sociology and Yerushalmi Professor of Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University. His recent publications include “Spatial Politics and Socioeconomic Gaps between Jews and Palestinians in Israel” (Israeli Sociology, 2015), and (with Tali Kristal) “The Causes of Rising Wage Inequality: The Race between Institutions and Technology” (Socio-Economic Review, January 2017).
Neve Gordon is a professor of international law at Queen Mary University of London and a professor of politics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He is the author of Israel’s Occupation (2008) and coauthor of The Human Right to Dominate (2015). He is completing a book about the history and politics of human shielding.