In Palestine/Israel, different colored identification cards are mandated by the Israeli state apparatus to Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and those who are citizens of Israel. The article traces the development of the bureaucracy of the Palestinian ID card since the establishment of Israel and suggests that modern-day ID cards in Palestine/Israel are physical and visible instruments of a widespread low-tech surveillance mechanism to control mobility and a principal means for discriminating, both positively and negatively, subjects' privileges and rights. ID cards are both the spaces in which Palestinians confront, tolerate, and sometimes challenge the Israeli state, and a mechanism through which Palestinian spatiality, territoriality, and corporeality are penetrated by the Israeli regime. Vital in the control and differentiation of Palestinian populations, what makes ID cards unique in the Palestinian/Israeli case is that their materiality is one of their most important and resonant aspects. The article describes various representations of the ID cards, for example in poetry and in murals, to show how they also function as sites of remediation, spaces and moments of renegotiation for their bearers, subject to counter-hegemonic representations, interpretations, and uses. As a special kind of material object, ID cards are an effective and low-tech means of surveillance and differentiation and an important nexus of Israeli power, demonstrating the institutional materiality of the state apparatus's constitution in subjects' everyday life; but they have also become important because they allow a poetics of political resistance.
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Research Article| June 01 2011
Colored Identity: The Politics and Materiality of ID Cards in Palestine/Israel
Social Text (2011) 29 (2 (107)): 67–97.
Helga Tawil-Souri; Colored Identity: The Politics and Materiality of ID Cards in Palestine/Israel. Social Text 1 June 2011; 29 (2 (107)): 67–97. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1259488
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