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In focus: The PhD research of Irit Katz

The Common Camp: temporary settlements as a spatio-political instrument in Israel-Palestine --- and beyond

Irit’s research centres on the spatial, geopolitical and social aspects of camps, from their emergence in the 19th century to their current global proliferation. She examines how camps, whether employed by colonial, national and global powers as instruments of control, or constructed ad hoc by displaced populations as makeshift spaces of refuge, are used as versatile mechanisms by which modern societies and territories are administered, negotiated and reorganised.

Irit’s PhD dissertation, entitled ‘The Common Camp: Temporary Settlements as a Spatio-political Instrument in Israel-Palestine’, explores camps as a significant part of the region’s ongoing geopolitical changes. While the Palestinian refugee camps are well studied, the research shows how many other types of camps that appeared in Israel-Palestine over the last century together form a distinctive spatial paradigm. The research focuses on a state-created Jewish immigrant camp and a neighbouring makeshift Bedouin camp in the Negev desert, analysing how camps are used by actors from all sides of the political spectrum as architectural mechanisms for their continuing spatio-political struggles. Agamben’s influential theory of the camp is critically reassessed in this work through the examination and theoretical interpretation of empirical evidence. Irit’s research has already been partially published in leading peer-reviewed journals, such as Public Culture, City and Political Geography and won academic prizes. Currently, Irit studies camps created along Europe’s migration routes.

Illustrations:

  1. Zionist ‘pioneer’ settler camp, Beit Ha’shita Kubbutz, 1929 Source:  http://www.beithashita.org.il/apage/19951.php.  
  2. Tower and Stockade camp - Beit Yosef, 1937. Source: The Central Zionist Archives.
  3. British Detention Camp for illegal Jewish immigrants, Atlit, 1940s. Source: The Central Zionist Archives.
  4. Immigrant camp, Pardes Hanna, 1949. Source: The Central Zionist Archives.
  5. Ma’abara Immigrant Transit Camp, T’veria, 1951. Source: The Central Zionist Archives.
  6. Palestinian refugee camp, Baqua'a camp, Jordan, 1950s. Source: http://www.unrwa.org/content/replacing-tents-fabricated-shelters
  7. Settler camp in the occupied territories, Sebastia, 1975. Photo: Moshe Milner, Source: http://www.haaretz.co.il/opinions/.premium-1.2690630                         
  8. Negev Bedouin camp, Rachme, 2012. Source: photographed by the author.
  9. The Jungle camp, Calais, 2016. Source: photographed by the author.
  10. Grand-Synth camp, Dunkirk, 2016. Source: photographed by the author.