Focusing on punishment and imprisonment across three time periods, this essay explores the two-pronged attack on Palestinian politics that has characterized the settler-colonial project in Palestine over the past one hundred years. This double move entails an attempt to deny or destroy Palestinian political community, while simultaneously identifying Palestinians as political actors, specifically as bad actors. The aim is to undermine Palestinian political capacity by disrupting connection and organizing, while still deploying the weapon of categorizing Palestinians, individually and collectively, as enemies—under labels such as insurgents, terrorists, and enemy combatants. The struggle over elimination in Palestine has continued through multiple changes in governing regime and across territorial reconfigurations. The different tactics deployed against Palestinians over these decades are a product both of these changes and of the continuing Palestinian refusal to acquiesce to their elimination.
Elimination Politics: Punishment and Imprisonment in Palestine
Ilana Feldman is professor of anthropology, history, and international affairs at George Washington University. She is the author of Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917–67 (2008), Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza under Egyptian Rule (2015), Life Lived in Relief: Humanitarian Predicaments and Palestinian Refugee Politics (2018), and coeditor (with Miriam Ticktin) of In the Name of Humanity: The Government of Threat and Care (2010).
Ilana Feldman; Elimination Politics: Punishment and Imprisonment in Palestine. Public Culture 1 September 2019; 31 (3): 563–580. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-7532655
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