Centre for the Study of Democracy
and will feature two important voices:
Oren Yiftachel on Ethnocracy, land and identity in Israel/Palestine
Date: 16 April, 2010
Venue: Room C, New Admin Building (next to Council Chambers),
Kingsway Campus, University of Johannesburg
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Ali Abunimah is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and has contributed to numerous other volumes and written hundreds of articles on the question of Palestine. In 2008-2009 he was a Fellow at the Palestine Center. He is a co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, an award-winning online publication established in 2001. Electronic Intifada covers issues related to Palestine and the Palestine-Israel conflict. It is read by over 60,000 individuals worldwide every month. Based in Chicago, Mr Abunimah is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago.
Oren Yiftachel teaches urban studies and political geography at Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel. He previously taught at Curtin University, Australia; the Technion, Haifa; the University of Pennsylvania; Columbia University; UC Berkeley; University of Cape Town; Calcutta University; and the University of Venice. Professor Yiftachel's research has focused on critical understandings of the relations between space, power and conflict, drawing mainly on neo-Gramscian, post-colonial and Marxian inspirations, with strong social justice, multi-cultural and conflict resolution orientations. His work has been widely cited and translated into seven languages. His work is known for its originality, developing new concepts and theories, including "the dark side of planning", "urban social sustainability", "ethnocratic societies", "trapped minorities", "fractured regions", "ethno-classes", "internal frontiers" and "gray space", to mention a few. Professor Yiftachel is the founding editor of the journal Hagar: Studies in Culture, Politics and Place, and he serves on the editorial boards of Planning Theory, Society and Space, Urban Studies, IJMS, MERIP. He has worked as a planner and activist in a wide range of bodies, including the public housing association, and most recently at the council for unrecognized Bedouin villages in southern Israel/Palestine. He is also a founding member of the activist Faculty for Israel-Palestine Peace (FFIPP), and PALISAD, and is an active board member of B'tselem and Adva (Centre for Social Equality). Professor Yiftachel has published over 100 articles and ten books, including Planning a Mixed Region in Israel (1992), Planning as Control: Policy and Resistance in Divided Societies (1995), Israelis in Conflict (with Kemp, Newman, Ram - 2004), and Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine (2006).
Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine
For Oren Yiftachel, the notion of ethnocracy suggests a political regime that facilitates expansion and control by a dominant ethnicity in contested lands. It is neither democratic nor authoritarian, with rights and capabilities depending primarily on ethnic origin and geographic location. In Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine, he presents a new critical theory and comparative framework to account for the political geography of ethnocratic societies.
According to Yiftachel, the primary manifestation of ethnocracy in Israel/Palestine has been a concerted strategy by the state of "Judaization." Yiftachel's book argues that ethnic relations—both between Jews and Palestinians, and among ethno-classes within each nation—have been shaped by the diverse aspects of the Judaization project and by resistance to that dynamic. Special place is devoted to the analysis of ethnically mixed cities and to the impact of Jewish immigration and settlement on collective identities.
Tracing the dynamics of territorial and ethnic conflicts between Jews and Palestinians, Yiftachel examines the consequences of settlement, land, development, and planning policies. He assesses Israel's recent partial liberalization and the emergence of what he deems a "creeping apartheid" whereby increasingly impregnable ethnic, geographic, and economic barriers develop between groups vying for recognition, power, and resources. The book ends with an exploration of future scenarios, including the introduction of new agendas, such as binationalism and multiculturalism.
Oren Yiftachel is Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.