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
Hughes, S. "Domesticity and Diasporic Homeland: constructing 'home' in West Bank settlements."
Building on work in cultural geography and related fields on the concept of home, particularly in relation to diaspora and nationalism (the homeland), this article explores the discursive construction of home by Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. While other scholars have tracked the way domestic space has been militarized (particularly since 9/11), and how diasporic communities construct a sense of home away from their historic homeland, I am concerned with how military-occupied space is domesticated by a diasporic community that has “returned.” Drawing on expansive qualitative fieldwork, I found that the tension between constructing home as domesticity (a safe, peaceful sanctuary from the world) and home as diasporic homeland (a contested territory fight and sacrifice for) in the occupied territories leads Israeli settlers to make compromises between the ideal of security and the drive for national territory. This produces incongruous impulses and outcomes where the imperative of security and the need to place oneself in danger for the good of the nation are held in constant tension. These dissonances are reconciled through the use of four discourses, or conceptual frameworks, that settlers use to make sense of themselves and their lifestyle in this dangerous place: Torah/Return, Pioneering/frontier spirit, Quality-of-life, and Jewish community and identity. Through these discourses settlers are constructing a sense of “home,” both as domesticity and diasporic homeland.
Hughes, S. "Settler Colonialism: Inside the settler consciousness."
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.