The Anthropology of Citizenship in No Man's Land: Searching for Israeliness in the West-Bank of Israel/Palestine
This paper is based on my fieldwork in an Israeli academic college in a 'SettlemenTown' located in the West-Bank of Israel/Palestine and it answers Yael Navaro-Yashin's (2003) call for ethnographic research of (political) 'no man's lands', and to the ethnographic challenge she poses in her call for anthropologists to 'sense the political'. It is an attempt to understand how Israeli citizenship is being modified in reaction to the ambiguous status of this geo-political region.
The concept of 'no man's land' refers to a geo-political territory which is not part of any 'normal' state and is also not recognized as a 'state' on its own by the international community. This 'abnormal' political situation results in the ambiguous situation of its inhabitants, and the ambiguous status of their citizenship. She therefore proposes "'no man's land' as a metaphor for an abjected space outside the recognized domains of the international system". In such 'no man's lands', anthropologists could and should more often 'sense the political', rather than 'observe' it.
The "West-Bank" of Israel/Palestine, a disputed political territory, is an example of a (political) 'no man's land'. The WB was never annexed to the State of Israel and is not recognized by the international community as part of Israel and has been an ambiguous political entity since 1967. It is a territory that was left in a political 'limbo', 'betwixt and between' two internationally-recognized states. Though the 'political' is sometimes present in the WB in a visible physical form (fences, military checkpoints), more often it has to be 'sensed' rather than 'observed' by the anthropologist.
Navaro-Yashin, Yael (2003) 'Life is Dead Here': Sensing the political in 'No Man's Land' in Anthropological Theory 3(1) pp. 107-125
Keywords: Israel/Palestine, Israel, Citizenship, Anthropology
Yarden B. Enav
Affiliation not supplied