Sovereign Bodies, Sovereign States: Settler Colonial Violence and the Visibility of Resistance in Palestine

  • Timothy SeidelEmail author
Part of the Middle East Today book series (MIET)


The physical fragmentation of the West Bank—and of the West Bank from Gaza—along with Israel’s settlement expansion and its complete control over the Palestinian economy, has demonstrated not only the ineffectiveness but the disempowering effects of the territorial divisions outlined in the Oslo Accords. The political and economic geography of occupied Palestinian territory presents significant constraints to Palestinian livelihoods. And yet the story of many Palestinian communities is not one of resignation but of steadfastness and resistance. This chapter will explore the ways in which this resistance is rendered visible or invisible, with particular attention to the ways in which the violence of Israel’s settler colonial occupation is rendered invisible through its linkage to concepts of sovereignty and the state that erase bodily violence and bodily resistance to that violence (via the state’s claims of sovereignty). This interrogation of sovereignty aids in our decentering of the state and the centering of embodied subjectivities as we explore expressions of resistance and local dissent in Palestine.


  1. Abed, George T. 1989. “The Political Economy of Resistance in the Occupied Territories.” Journal of Refugee Studies 2 (1): 55–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, Lori. 2013. The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Arafeh, Nur. 2018. “Long Overdue: Alternatives to the Paris Protocol.” Al-Shabaka, February 27.
  4. Asad, Talal. 2003. Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brown, Katrina. 2016. Resilience, Development, and Global Change. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. B’Tselem. 2012. “Restriction of Movement: The Paris Protocol.” B’, September 19.
  7. Cavanaugh, William T. 2009. The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dana, Tariq. 2014. “A Resistance Economy: What Is It and Can It Provide an Alternative?” Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung PAL Papers Series, November.
  9. Dana, Tariq, and Ali Jarbawi. 2017. “A Century of Settler Colonialism in Palestine: Zionism’s Entangled Project.” Brown Journal of World Affairs 24 (1): 197–219.Google Scholar
  10. Di Cintio, Marcello. 2014. “The Walls That Hurt Us.” New York Times, January 23.
  11. Fanon, Frantz. 1963. The Wretched of the Earth. Translated by C. Farrington. New York: Grove.Google Scholar
  12. Farsakh, Leila. 2016. “Palestinian Economic Development: Paradigm Shifts Since the First Intifada.” Journal of Palestine Studies 45 (2): 55–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gregory, Derek. 2004. The Colonial Present: Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. Haddad, Toufic. 2016. Palestine Ltd: Neoliberalism and Nationalism in the Occupied Territory. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  15. Hardt, Michael. 1995. “The Withering of Civil Society.” Social Text 45: 27–44.Google Scholar
  16. Kahn, Paul W. 2008. Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  17. Keck, Margaret E., and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Khalidi, Raja. 1985. “The Economics of Political Survival.” Journal of Palestine Studies 14 (4): 153–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Khalidi, Raja, and Sobhi Samour. 2011. “Neoliberalism as Liberation: The Statehood Program and the Remaking of the Palestinian National Movement.” Journal of Palestine Studies 40 (2): 6–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. MA’AN Development Center. 2012. “Towards a Just Model of Palestinian Development: Reassessing International Aid Conditions.” MA’AN Development Center Position Paper, January.
  21. Mavelli, Luca. 2012. “Postsecular Resistance, the Body, and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.” Review of International Studies 38 (5): 1057–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mavelli, Luca, and Fabio Petito. 2012. “The Postsecular in International Relations: An Overview.” Review of International Studies 38 (5): 931–942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mbembe, Achille. 2003. “Necropolitics.” Public Culture 15 (1): 11–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Palestinian Land Defense Coalition. n.d. Land Defense Coalition [brochure].
  25. Perugini, Nicola, and Neve Gordon. 2015. The Human Right to Dominate. Oxford: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  26. Roy, Sara. 1995. The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development. Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies.Google Scholar
  27. Salamanca, Omar Jabary, Mezna Qato, Kareem Rabie, and Sobhi Samour. 2012. “Past Is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine.” Settler Colonial Studies 2 (1): 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sansour, Vivien, and Alaa Tartir. 2014. “Palestinian Farmers: A Last Stronghold of Resistance.” Al-Shabaka, July.
  29. Sayigh, Rosemary. 1979. Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries. London: Zed Press.Google Scholar
  30. Scott, David. 1996. “The Aftermaths of Sovereignty: Postcolonial Criticism and the Claims of Political Modernity.” Social Text 48 14 (3): 1–26.Google Scholar
  31. Seidel, Timothy. 2017. “‘We Refuse to Be Enemies’: Political Geographies of Violence and Resistance in Palestine.” Journal of Peacebuilding and Development 12 (3): 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Seth, Sanjay. 2011. “Postcolonial Theory and the Critique of International Relations.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 40 (1): 167–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Shinko, Rosemary E. 2010. “Ethics After Liberalism: Why (Autonomous) Bodies Matter.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Special Issue “After Liberalism?” 38 (3): 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tabar, Linda, and Omar Jabary Salamanca, eds. 2015. Critical Readings of Development Under Colonialism: Towards a Political Economy for Liberation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ramallah: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Regional Office Palestine and Birzeit University Center for Development Studies.Google Scholar
  35. Tartir, Alaa. 2015. “Contentious Economics in Occupied Palestine.” In Contentious Politics in the Middle East: Popular Resistance and Marginalized Activism Beyond the Arab Uprisings, edited by F. Gerges (469–499). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  36. Tartir, Alaa, and Benoit Challand. 2017. “Palestine.” In The Middle East, 14th ed., edited by E. Lust, 707–736. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ/Sage.Google Scholar
  37. Tartir, Alaa, Sam Bahour, and Samer Abdelnour. 2012. “Defeating Dependency, Creating a Resistance Economy.” Al-Shabaka, February 13.
  38. Tilly, Charles, and Sidney Tarrow. 2007. Contentious Politics. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  39. Turner, Mandy, and Omar Shweiki, eds. 2014. Decolonizing Palestinian Political Economy: De-development and Beyond. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  40. UN OCHA. 2017. “Fragmented Lives: Humanitarian Overview 2016.” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory, May 31.
  41. Wilcox, Lauren. 2014. “Making Bodies Matter in IR.” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 43 (1): 359–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wolfe, Patrick. 2006. “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Journal of Genocide Research 8 (4): 387–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zaru, Jean. 2008. Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  44. Zureik, Elia. 1983. “The Economics of Dispossession.” Third World Quarterly 5 (4): 775–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Social Sciences and Center for Justice and PeacebuildingEastern Mennonite UniversityHarrisonburgUSA

Personalised recommendations