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Palgrave Macmillan

A History of Confinement in Palestine: The Prison Web

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • A history of the imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons since 1967 and lately in Palestinian facilities
  • Discusses the prison web as a bordering management system, carceral citizenships and subjectivities
  • This story is built around places, moments, people, and their testimonies

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About this book

This book deals with the contemporary history of the imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons since 1967, and, since the 2000s, in Palestinian facilities. The prison experience is widely shared in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It endurably marks personal and collective stories. Since the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories in 1967, mass incarceration has spun a prison web, a kind of suspended detention. Approximately, 40 percent of the male population has been to prison. It shows how the judicial and prison practices applied to Palestinian residents of the OPT are major fractal devices of control contributing to the management of Israeli borders, and shape a specific bordering system based on a mobility regime: such borders are mobile, networked, and endless. This history of confinement is that of the prison web, and of the in-between political, social, and personal spaces people weave between Inside and Outside prison. Based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork, oral and written sources, archives, and extensive institutional documentation, this political anthropology book deals with carceral citizenships and subjectivities. Over time, imprisonment has had profound effects on personal experiences: on masculinities, femininities, gender relations, parentality, and intimacy. Woven like a web, this story is built around places, moments, people, and their testimonies.

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Table of contents (8 chapters)


“The Prison Web is a book like no other on the deep, durable, and ever capacious domains of the Israeli state’s incessant and insidious work to contain, contort, and annihilate Palestinian lives. Stéphanie Latte Abdallah’s analytic acuity and meticulous detailing of every corner of Israeli intrusion provides a portal into violence, terror, and precision dispositifs too often un-noted and un-named. Her minute tracking of incursions is joined by a brilliant conceptual take on what constitutes Israel’s colonial politics: as she writes, it erases delimited borders, enforces a ‘mobility regime’ that arrests movement and distorts time. There is not one page in this stunningly researched book that is not worth reading; no one has revealed so profoundly how the prison Israel has built has sought to crush Palestinian lives—far beyond the concrete walls of detention.”


Ann Stoler, The New School for Social Research, New York, USA


“While I am not a specialist in the carceral system as it relates to Palestinians, I cannot imagine a more authoritative study than this one. Based on years of rigorous research and fieldwork in the West Bank and Israel, this highly informative and important book provides a detailed and multidimensional analysis of the central (and changing) role of the carceral archipelago (to borrow from Michel Foucault) in Palestinian social and political life since 1967. A penetrating and at times, poignant examination of the critical yet often overlooked role of incarceration in determining and shaping individual and collective lives.”

Sara Roy, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, USA

“This is an urgently necessary and important, if harrowing, book. Deeply researched, lucidly argued, and historically comprehensive in its approach, it will be an indispensable resource for studying Palestine, and global carcerality more generally.”


Laleh Khalili, author of Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (2012), Queen Mary University of London, UK


“One out of four Palestinians have experienced Israeli detention since 1967. This is an unprecedented book that dives brilliantly into the details of the Israeli carceral system by studying the colonial penal system with its traditional and neoliberal characteristics including people's individual and collective narratives and political and social experiences that include: courts, prisons, the prisoner movement, hunger strikes, tribulations of visits. Through a deep ethnographic and analytical study of the visible and the invisible, this book deals with gender, geography, political affiliation, and the social representations of the body and the mechanisms of attempts to control it in prison and outside of it. In a nutshell, this book is an essential reference for understanding Palestinian society.”


Abaher El Sakka, Birzeit University, Palestine

“This book is an original contribution to the study of the forms of resistance developed by the Palestinians in the face of the Israeli settler-colonial regime, whose main core is prisons and military justice. It also provides an ethnographic investigation into the reconstruction of perceptions and their changes among political prisoners towards issues of sexuality and intimacy in a society in which religion and tradition have a special place.”


Joni Aasi, An-Najah University, Palestine


Authors and Affiliations

  • CNRS/CERI-Sciences Po, Paris, France

    Stéphanie Latte Abdallah

About the author

Stéphanie Latte Abdallah is CNRS researcher at CERI-Sciences Po, France, specialized in Middle East Studies.

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