“As much as the wall performs the necessity of continued occupation, it also inadvertently performs these internal contestations and anxieties of state. The wall both veils and partially constitutes ‘the violent reality of a shifting colonial frontier’, and the ‘us here/ them there’ ideology it supposedly performs is undermined by the settlement enterprise. Who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’? Where is ‘here’ and where is ‘there’? Not only are ‘they’ (the Palestinians) in ‘here’, but ‘we’ (settlers) are out ‘there’; glimpsed through barbed wire or perched on hilltops”
-Rachel Busbridge from Performing Colonial Sovereignty and the Israeli ‘Separation’ Wall
The built environment both shapes and is created by ideology.. Space matters as an emblem of ideas and the arena in which oppression is exercised and internalized. There has been perhaps no greater space of contestation and conflict in history than the small plot of land today known as Israel/Palestine.
The wall in Israel/Palestine is, by its very nature, a perfect example of material process that is shaped by and shapes subjectivity and objectivity. Race/Object: The West Bank Wall in Israel/Palestine explores the multi-faceted conceptions of identity at play in the Israeli occupation of Palestine, with a specific focus on the ways race has been written into the landscape. This project will feature interviews with organizers, historians, immigrants/refugees, and other persons who have some connection to the broader Israel/Palestine conflict, unpacking the ways in which race is seen in the region and cataloging significant events contributing to the construction of the separation wall along the West Bank. Through building a record of interpretations of race and the construction of the separation barrier, I hope a narrative will emerge of the wall beyond its material or strategic importance that show it to be a major racial symbol in the region.
Editor’s note: This undergraduate research project stems from a course entitled ‘Humanities Fieldwork: Oral History & Digital Scholarship’ taught by Brooke Bryan in fall of 2016 at Antioch College. Please contact the lead researcher, Ian Rosenthal, with questions or intent to participate. Not all of the interviews from this project were released to the public. Click through to the second page to listen.