Of Trees and People: The Changing Entanglement in the Israeli Desert

Liron Shani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article portrays the shift experienced in the role of acacia trees during environmental–political struggles as the entanglement of trees and people. Drawing on a four-year ethnographic study around Israel’s Arava desert valley, the article narrates human interactions with these trees amid an environmental conflict fraught with personal and political conflict, opposing perspectives on natural preservation and scientific debate, as well as disputes among environmental organisations. Contrary to current approaches in anthropology that –theoretically at least–confer agency on the non-human, I refocus on the human practices that weave the non-human into the social fabric. In this article, I argue that the trees–not actors in their own right, yet inhabiting a tapestry of people and other elements–are essential to understanding a variety of social processes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)624-644
Number of pages21
Issue number4
StatePublished - 8 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Environmental struggles
  • Israel
  • agriculture
  • human-non-human
  • trees


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