Saturday, November 29, 2008

Braverman, 'The Tree is the Enemy Soldier': A Sociolegal Making of War Landscapes in the Occupied West Bank

Irus Braverman, University at Buffalo Law School, has a fascinating new article on an unexpected topic: 'The Tree is the Enemy Solider': A Sociolegal Making of War Landscapes in the Occupied West Bank. It appears in Law & Society Review (2008). The classic work on landscape in U.S. history is of course William Cronin, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England. Here's Braverman's abstract:
War landscapes have a particular sociology; they are also formed through distinct legal technologies. By examining the genealogy of trees as totemic displacements in the occupied West Bank I demonstrate how the Israeli/Palestinian war is deflected onto the landscape and how this deflection erodes the boundary between law and war. Dealing with issues of colonization, nationalization, and the way that these implicate landscape as a "natural alibi," the article examines the intricate making of politics into nature. Further, it explores the ironic nesting of colonial processes from Ottoman, to British, to Zionist, and finally to the new Jewish settler society that seeks to unsettle the old colonial landscapes of this place. Utilizing a detailed interpretation of a range of interviews and participatory observations, the article unpacks the mutually constitutive relationship between law, technologies of seeing, and landscape, illustrating how this relationship is played out by various actors in the occupied West Bank.