National Boundaries, Colonized Spaces: The Gendered Politics of Residential Life in Contemporary Jerusalem

Abowd, Thomas
October 2007
Anthropological Quarterly;Fall2007, Vol. 80 Issue 4, p997
Academic Journal
This article explores the gendered politics of residential space in the contested city of contemporary Jerusalem. I focus on the spatial construction of identity and alterity in this urban center with the aim of detailing how competing national identities are expressed in place and space. Looking specifically at the quotidian realities that unmarried, adult Palestinian women experience across this divided terrain, this article analyzes the potent intersections of gender and class-based oppressions, racism, and national chauvinisms under Israeli occupation. This article examines the multiple ways in which both Israelis and Palestinians have deemed unmarried, Palestinian women as "out of place," particularly as the latter have increasingly traversed different national and cultural spaces in Jerusalem and struggled for greater degrees of independence beyond the boundaries of the familial realm. This article challenges the bulk of the scholarly literature on this national conflict, writings that tend to ignore the colonial character of Israeli rule and the regimes of land and housing so central to the Jewish State's continual appropriation and reconfiguration of Palestinian land. I argue that the failure to properly examine the colonizing dimensions of Israeli power has hampered understandings of spatial relations in Jerusalem and across the fractured landscape of Palestine and Israel more generally.


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