Refereed Journal Articles
Hughes, S. (2016). "With a Wink and a Nod: Settlement Growth Through Construction as Commemoration in the Occupied West Bank." Geopolitics: 1-23.
Construction as commemoration refers to the construction of new settlement outposts and the expansion of existing settlements to commemorate the loss of Israeli life in the occupied West Bank. Popular discourse surrounding this commemorative construction maintains that these acts are aimed at “sending a message” to Palestinian terrorists, asserting that Israeli settlers will stand fast in the face of violence. Settlements, however, grow regardless of what Palestinians do or do not do. In this paper, I argue that when viewed through the lens of settler colonial theory, construction as commemoration is revealed to not be aimed at sending a message to Palestinians, but rather at appealing to the hearts and minds of the Israeli public, and at providing cover for the Israeli government to openly support settlement growth regardless of international pressure. In contrast to commemorative acts like monuments and memorials which are aimed at symbolically controlling space, construction as commemoration results in the material, physical control of contested territory. The discursive framing of construction as commemoration maintains the fiction of a conflictual relationship between settlers and the Israeli government, which allows for settlement growth to continue, in the words of one informant, “with a wink and a nod”—with the tacit support of the Israeli government at the same time that it claims to try to rein the settlers in.
Hughes, S. "Unbounded Territoriality: Territorial Control in the Occupied West Bank." Settler Colonial Studies. (Accepted with minor revisions March 2019)
The “temporary” Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem began in 1967. Excepting East Jerusalem, Israel has made no move to formally annex the territories. Neither are they withdrawing, which is made clear by continuous settlement growth. By what territorial logic does the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories function such that it can continue indefinitely and yet still be regarded an “occupation,” which, by definition, is temporary? In Human Territoriality: Its Theory and History, Robert David Sack defines territoriality as “the attempt by an individual or group to affect, influence, or control people, phenomena, and relationships, by delimiting and asserting control over a geographic area” (Sack, 1986, p. 19). One of the three requirements of territoriality is delimiting the area under control. In stark contrast to this, I suggest the territorial logic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip represents what I term unbounded territoriality, a form of territorial control best exercised by not delimiting boundaries. This form of territoriality complicates the connection between sovereignty and territory in the nation-state system. The functioning of unbounded territoriality is not the result of Israel’s inability to exercise territorial control as traditionally conceptualized, but is rather proof of Israel’s overwhelming power to control territory in a fuzzy, piecemeal fashion. This project expands on efforts by scholars such as Israeli philosopher Adi Ophir to rethink familiar facts and existing discourse about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and traces the how (tools and apparatus), what (logics and maneuvers), and why (what it accomplishes and avoids) of unbounded territoriality in the Israeli occupation of Palestine (Azoulay & Ophir, 2012).
Manuscripts in Preparation
Invited by Political Geography Section Editor (Dr. Nicholas Crane) of Geography Compass to write a review article on political geographical approaches to settler colonialism, in collaboration with colleagues Rhys Machold and Stepha Velednitsky. Due: 12 July 2019.
Invited to submit commentary on Natalie Koch’s book The Geopolitics of Spectacle for publication as a book review in Political Geography, along with other participants of an “Author Meets Critics” Panel at the AAG Annual Meeting 2019. Due: 5 May 2019.
Hughes, Sara & Stepha Velednitsky. “Greenwashing Palestine: Zionist green technologies and the making of settler expertise.” In preparation for Environment and Planning D. (Presented at the AAG Annual Meeting 2019.)
Israeli innovations in environmental technology are ostensibly aimed at sustainable resource management and climate-change mitigation. Indeed, Israeli popular discourse positions the country as a world leader in “green” technologies such as desalination,drip irrigation, and solar energy. Taking into account the historic and geographic context of Israel’s scientific development, we argue that Israel’s green technologies are fundamentally structured by the Zionist project of appropriating Palestinian lands. This means that whether the outcomes of these projects are largely “sustainable” (i.e., water conservation and renewable energy), “unsustainable” (i.e., dumping waste in Palestinian villages and destruction of Palestinian solar panels), or some combination of both (i.e., greywater recycling), their development and implementation within Palestine/Israel works to reassert Israeli control over Palestinian people and territory. In fact, in contributing to the theme of “geopolitical ecologies,” we argue that Israel is managing the ecology of historic Palestine to strategic effect. By promoting a “green” image and positioning itself as a global leader in sustainable technology, afforestation, and arid land management, Israeli leaders frame Israel as a responsible—and, by proxy, legitimate—steward of Palestinian lands. As such, Israel’s advancement of sustainability and climate change mitigation works to reproduce the settler state occupation of Palestine. In this paper, we analyze the use of “green” technologies--specifically in the areas of solar energy, water management, and waste processing--as mechanisms for land appropriation and dispossession in Palestine/Israel. This phenomenon, termed “greenwashing” by activists (Benjamin, Levy, Kershnar, & Sahibzada, 2011), reflects a constellation of state, environmental, and settler colonial interests, and informs scholarly engagements with the political ecologies of state-making. Situated at the intersection of political geography/geopolitics, political ecology, and comparative settler colonial studies, our analysis asks how modern discourses around climate change mitigation and sustainable ecological management offer new opportunities for settler colonial state-making and consolidation of state power in contested territories. (Presented by Sara at the APCG Annual Meeting in October 2018, and co-presented at the PGSG Preconference and AAG Annual Meeting in April 2019.)
Hughes, Sara. Suburban Occupation. Book manuscript proposal in preparation for Syracuse University Press.
Hughes, S. (2013). “The Border Multiple: The Practicing of Borders between Public Policy and Everyday Life in a Re‐Scaling Europe, edited by Dorte Jagetić Andersen, Martin Klatt, and Marie Sandberg. 2012. Farnham, UK and Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing. 260+ xii. ISBN 978‐1‐4094‐3708‐6, $99.95.” Journal of Regional Science 53.5 (2013): 946-948.
“Suburban Occupation: Contradictory Impulses and Outcomes of Life in Israeli Settlements in the Occupied West Bank.”
The hundred-year conflict in Israel/Palestine is, at its core, a struggle over competing territorial claims and narratives. But this is not just an asymmetrical territorial conflict between two competing national groups—it is a settler colonial struggle between colonizer and colonized. Since 1967, the conflict has centered on the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), which include the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Israeli settlement in the occupied territories began in 1967 following the Arab-Israeli War, despite the fact that the occupation and transfer of civilian population into the Palestinian territories is illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention and often criticized under international law. Since the beginning of the military occupation of the West Bank (or “Judea and Samaria”) in 1967, the settler population there and in East Jerusalem has risen to well over half a million Israeli Jews. Despite the fact that this territory remains contested and in a constant state of war and violence, settlement residents describe their communities as safe, desirable places to live. My dissertation analyzes the considerable discursive and material work required to construct and maintain settlements as desirable places to live; the ways in which territorial control is utilized to make the occupation possible and sustainable; and how settlers are responding to and shaping their physical and social environment in relation to the Palestinian “other.” In three substantive chapters, in addition to a chapter examining the history of settler colonialization, I deal with various contradictions of settler life in the West Bank. This research is based on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork in the occupied West Bank, over 100 in-depth interviews with settlement residents and local council officials, participant observation at community events, and document analysis of settlement periodicals, literature by and about settlers, newspaper articles, and marketing materials. In my research I am interested in the conceptual frameworks that settlement residents use to make sense of their lifestyle in a military-occupied, contested area, and also in critiquing their interpretation of the world and in understanding how it is linked to geopolitics, settler colonialism, and unequal relations of power.
Hughes, S. (2011). "Territoriality, Sovereignty and the Nation-state System in Israel-Palestine: The Creation of the Palestinian Bantustan "state" and Shifting Palestinian Resistance Tactics." University of San Francisco Repository.
The conflict in Israel-Palestine is over the sovereign control of territory and takes place within a global framework made up of clearly defined nation-states. It is within this framework that Israeli colonial expansion and construction of the separation barrier in the West Bank attempt to maximize Israeli annexation of the oPt while creating a Palestinian Bantustan “state” to contain and isolate the Palestinian people in non-sovereign territorial enclaves through the use of territoriality as a strategy for exercising sovereignty. In response to this obvious process of cantonization, Palestinians are resisting by supporting Israeli annexation – of the West Bank and its Arab population. That way, the Palestinian people can protect their rights as citizens of the State of Israel.