Ties of Separation: Analogy and Generational Segregation in North America, Australia, and Israel/Palestine

65 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2016 Last revised: 21 Dec 2017

See all articles by Hedi Viterbo

Hedi Viterbo

Queen Mary University of London

Date Written: 2017


Taking analogy as both its mode and object of inquiry, this article examines the relationship between historical-geographical analogies and generational segregation (the large-scale separation of children and adults) from three complementary perspectives.

First, due to restrictions recently introduced by the Israeli authorities, Palestinian prisoners have been prevented from reading popular study materials dealing with both Indigenous child removal and analogies concerning settler-Indigenous relations in North America and Australia. This article revives the critical potential of this encounter with analogies and accounts, by putting forward an analogy between the removal of Indigenous children to boarding schools in the United States and Canada, Australia’s Aboriginal “stolen generations,” and the increased separation of Palestinian children and adults in Israeli custody. This analogy highlights key parallels: the deleterious effects of allegedly benevolent generational segregation; the invocation of law and children’s “best interests;” the severance of unwanted intergenerational influences; the targeting of children due to their presumed plasticity; the use of separation to govern adults; and links between generational segregation, “national security,” and incarceration.

Second, these analogies—those that Palestinians explored in Israeli prison and the generational segregation analogy developed here—partly overlap with, and acquire their potential and implications from other analogies, concerning settler-Indigenous relations in North America, Australia, and Israel/Palestine. This article investigates the roles such analogies have played, and their alignment with competing ideologies, across a range of legal and political discourse over the past two centuries.

Finally, in order to maximize the critical potential of such historical-geographical analogies, this article offers a conceptual critique of three relevant discourses: legalistic analogies concerning generational segregation, which leave unchallenged the broader field of child law and policy on which such segregation hinges; rigid conceptualizations of (settler) colonialism in debates on analogies between North America, Australia, and Israel/Palestine; and the tendency to reduce analogy to similarity.

Bringing into conversation previously separate bodies of scholarship, these three interdependent perspectives shed new light on important yet hitherto unexamined issues at the intersection of analogy and generational segregation.

Keywords: analogy, Indigenous child removal, child law, prisoner rights, United States, Canada, Australia, Israel/Palestine, settler colonialism

Suggested Citation

Viterbo, Hedi, Ties of Separation: Analogy and Generational Segregation in North America, Australia, and Israel/Palestine (2017). Brooklyn Journal of International Law, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 686-749 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2850718

Hedi Viterbo (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London

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