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Uneven ground: an ethnographic study of Palestinian and settler mobility in the occupied Palestinian West Bank

Spector, Branwen (2021) Uneven ground: an ethnographic study of Palestinian and settler mobility in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis looks at the experiences of and controls over mobility among Palestinian refugees (in Dheishe refugee camp) and Israeli settlers (in Efrat settlement) in the south-central region of the Occupied West Bank. It explores how road, internet, and human networks serve as infrastructures through which the safe mobility of these groups and their respective states is generated, limited, and manipulated. I emphasise the “slipperiness” (Edwards 2003: 2) of infrastructure to show how the flows of people, goods, and ideas are differentially applied to different groups in a colonial setting. I begin by exploring the notion of the multi-sited fieldsite, extending the concept across the discontinuous physical spaces of the West Bank. I then extend this notion of discontinuity to the ways I mobilised my positionality as a researcher in order to gain access and establish relationships among settlers and Palestinians. By drawing attention to the ways that positionality can be differentially rendered according to who we work with, I highlight how this impacts the wellbeing of the researcher and therefore informs the anthropological knowledge it generates. I contextualise the historical mobilities of Jews and consequently Palestinians that have shaped the region, centring each group’s relation to and expression of their right of return. In tracing these histories I highlight the ways that these rights are expressed through visible and invisible means, reflected in the “underneath-ness” and invisibility of infrastructures themselves. I show how Zionist ideologies have informed the occupying Israeli state’s design and use of infrastructures in the West Bank to reflect its aims of expansion, segregation, and erasure. Infrastructures replicate the political orders from which they emerge. In exploring road infrastructures, I show how separate and shared spaces enable Palestinians and Israelis to impact each other’s mobility. Internet infrastructures offer opportunities for creative resistance and regional mobility. Refugees and settlers themselves function as human infrastructures that perpetuate each group as it challenges the other, while still facilitating individual and group mobility.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2021 Branwen Spector
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D890 Eastern Hemisphere
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Anthropology

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