Erez Tzfadia: Colonization and Space in Israel/Palestine

Colonization, Culture and the Production of Space in Israel/Palestine
Lecture and Masterclass with Erez Tzfadia

Public event:   9 November, Spui25, time tba
Masterclass:   10 November 10:00 – 14:00, P.C.Hoofthuis (Spuistraat 145) room 3.19
Contact: Noa Roei,
ECTS: 1 for research MA students that participate in both parts of the event

The footprints of colonialism and colonization are well marked in Israel/Palestine geographies. More than 1000 new Jewish towns and villages have been built since late 19th century in frontier and border regions, some of them over the ruins of Palestinian territory. This is the known story of Israel/Palestine. Less known is how colonization is shaped and reshaped in social and cultural practices and discourses within the dominant society – the Jewish society in Israel/Palestine. In the context of colonization, frontiers have become symbols representing empirical manifestations of state power, as well as security discourses and territorial control. To realize territorial control, practices of demographic engineering were implemented, including eviction of the ‘enemy’, and forced settlement of marginal communities. Demographic engineering relied on cultural logic and ethno-class division that eventually categorized and marginalized some segments of the dominant group.

We will elaborate on the following questions: What is the nature of nation building projects in settler-colonial societies? What is the role that culture plays in settler-colonial societies? Is there an end to settler-colonialism? And, what can we learn from the case study of Israel/Palestine about the relation between social marginalization and demographic engineering in a broader context?

The seminar is conceived as an interactive session in which participants will be actively engaged. We encourage participants to bring questions from their own research as they pertain to the issues posed by the materials.

Preparatory readings:

  • Tzfadia, E. and Yacobi, H. (2011). Rethinking Israel Space: Periphery and Identity, Routledge, pp. 8-19, 117-121.
  • Murphy, Alexander B. (2002). “National Claims to Territory in the Modern State System: Geographical Considerations”, Geopolitics, 7(2), pp.193–214.
  • More readings tba

1EC is available for registered graduate students who attend both parts of the event

Public Lecture
November 2017 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour declaration, a public statement issued by the British government announcing support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. To mark the event, ACMES and ASCA have invited scholars to present on issues relating to space and society in contemporary Israel/Palestine. The scholars will, each from their own research practice, focus on different aspect of how people navigate everyday life and how this is affected by the regulation of space.

In his contribution, Erez Tzfadia will present two aspects that the Balfour declaration symbolizes for the Zionist movement:  an imperial support at Jewish colonization of Palestine and the supremacy of the rule of law – associated with modernism and rationalism ,similar to the way in which the Zionist movement conceived itself. However, the rule of law and the logic of colonialism may contradict each other: while the rule of law means fixed rules applicable to all, a sense of equality under the law and ideals of justice and individual dignity – colonialism means unequal territorial rights according to ethnic and racial (imagined) hierarchies. This tension, Tzfadia argues, results in practices of territorial control and dispossession, based on ‘gray spacing’: temporal and informal development of land in which the logic of ethno-nationalism, and not the logic of law, determines the future of development – formalization or eviction. Tzfadia will present the temporality of two informalities in the West Bank – the Palestinian village Khan El-Akhmar near East Jerusalem and of Jewish outpost Amona to reveal the tensions and compatibilities of the two principles that the Balfour declaration represented: colonialism and the rule of law.

Erez Tzfadia teaches and researches spatial policy and politics at the department of public policy and administration at Sapir College, Israel. In 2015–2016 he was an Israel Institute Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University. Erez earned his PhD in geography at Ben- Gurion University in 2002, and was a Lady Davis Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University in 2003. He is also the chairperson of an Israeli non-profit organization BIMKOM – Planners for Planning Rights.