Necropenology: conquering new bodies, psychics, and territories of death in East Jerusalem

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


In theorising penal politics, this article investigates the marking of the colonised through an analysis of state violence over dead bodies. Delving into and describing the political scene in which the state–through its courts, law, military, and police–leaves dead bodies bleeding after death, withholds them in carceral refrigerators, and tortures their communities, uncovers what I define as necropenology. Developed from the voices of Jerusalemite families whose children were imprisoned after death, this paper argues that expanding spaces of carcerality, criminalising those who are already dead, and penetrating Palestinian spaces of mourning, illustrates new modes of penology, a necropenology. Necropenology conquers new bodies, psychics, and territories in life and in death through the performance of power that marks both dead and living bodies as disposable. Jerusalemite families articulate first-hand how this form of power strips control of one’s own emotions, inscribes indignities, and keeps the colonised as dangerous entities, always on trial in death and when dead.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)285-301
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Jerusalem
  • Palestinians
  • children
  • death
  • necropolitics
  • settler colonialism


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