Wild Legalities: Animals and Settler Colonialism in Palestine/Israel
43 PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review (forthcoming 2021), DOI: 10.1111/plar.12419
University at Buffalo School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming
Posted: 24 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 18, 2021
This article examines the underlying biopolitical premises of wildlife management in Palestine/Israel that make, remake, and unmake this region's settler colonial landscape. Drawing on interviews with Israeli nature officials and observations of their work, the article tells several animal stories that illuminate the hierarchies and slippages between wild and domestic, nature and culture, native and settler, and human and nonhuman life in Palestine/Israel. Animal bodies are especially apt technologies of settler colonialism, I show here. They naturalize and normalize settler modes of existence, while criminalizing native livelihoods and relations. Utilizing the terra nullius doctrine, creating biblical landscapes by reintroducing extirpated wild animals, controlling the movement of Palestinians and their animals while letting Jewish settlers and their animals roam unhindered, criminalizing the Palestinians’ more-than-human relations, and introducing restrictions on native engagement with animals are all an inherent part of nature administration in Palestine/Israel. But while they serve as tools for advancing colonial practices, nonhuman animals are also subject to the same violence that afflicts humans. Understanding the more-than-human dimensions of the settler colonial order is instrumental for thinking about how to subvert this order and redirect its violence toward decolonized, or “wild,” legalities.
Keywords: animal studies, settler colonialism, biopolitics, nature conservation, Palestine/Israel
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