Colonial necrocapitalism, state secrecy and the Palestinian freedom tunnel

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Stéphanie Wahab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Secrecy and the use of “secret information” as capital in the hands of the state is mobilised by affective racialised machineries, cultivated on “security” grounds. Securitised secrecy is an assemblage of concealed operations juxtaposing various forms of invasions and dispossessions. It is a central strategy in the politico-economic life of the state to increase its scope of domination. Secrecy is used and abused to entrap and penetrate political subjects and entities. This article explores the necrocapitalist utilisation of secrecy embedded in the coloniser’s attempt to distort the mind of the colonised. Built from the voices of those affected by secrecy’s violent psychopolitical entrapment and penetrability, we expose the ways in which secrecy manufactures colonisers’ impunity and immunity. Further, we discuss the ruins that secrecy mislays, arguing as Fanon explained, that psychic ruins are common usage of colonial violence. In fact, Fanon (1963) argued that damaged personhood was central to the colonial order and its making. We conclude by insisting that ruins can also be sites of reflection and counteractions of life against the necrocapitalist violent machinery and ideology of the settler colonial state. Building on previous critical and decolonial theories, this essay argues that the coloniser’s yearning for destruction, coupled with the use of militarised “secret information”, constitutes colonial invisible criminalities to maim (Puar, 2015) and erase (Wolf, 2006). Militarised secrecy’s necrocapitalist assemblage takes us to one of the core dimensions of settler colonial ideology “accumulation by dispossession” (Harvey, 2003), that is, the elimination of the colonised, demolition of life and the psychic in which the colonialist “trades” and “sells” the machineries of elimination as combat proven. Examining secrecy and its eliminatory machineries exposes the colonialist’s brutality and the colonised’s unending capacity for resistance and the power of life. This essay hopes to expose the politics underpinning the way securitized secrecy is imagined, implemented and resisted.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number10488
JournalSocial and Health Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 21 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Unisa Press 2021.


  • affective colonization
  • epistemic violence
  • refusal
  • Secrecy
  • settler colonial accumulation


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