Checkpoints as spatial political technologies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Authors: Alexandra Rijke*, Wageningen University and Research
Topics: Political Geography, Middle East
Keywords: Checkpoints, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Spatial Political Technologies, Mobility, Architecture of Occupation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


When Israel occupied the Palestinian Territories (West Bank and the Gaza Strip) in 1967, restrictions on Palestinian movement were gradually put in place by the Israeli state. After 50 years of occupation, the building of the Wall, the establishment of an elaborate checkpoint system, and the creation and continuous expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the related bypass roads, an intricate ‘architecture of occupation’ has been developed in the West Bank (Weizman, 2007). This architecture of occupation splinters the border between Israeli and Palestinian territories into a multitude of ever-changing borders, and contributes to a series of geographical practices aimed at controlling the daily lives of Palestinians, while ever enhancing the speed and ease of movement of Jewish settlers. Living in this architecture of occupation entails for many Palestinians that passing through an Israeli checkpoint is a daily ritual they cannot avoid on their way to work, school, family or to pray in their mosque/church. In this presentation, I will discuss how these checkpoints function as a spatial political technology (Foucault, 1977; Netz, 2004), focusing on the workings of the checkpoints’ regimes and the role played by machines. More specifically, I will analyse three checkpoints in the Bethlehem area and treat them for ‘what they do’ to Palestinian residents, as well as for how Palestinians themselves incorporate in diverse ways its assemblage of materialities, practices and technologies.

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