Settler colonialism and the archives of apprehension

Areej Sabbagh-Khoury*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The ‘archival turn’ has prompted historical scholarship to reevaluate the positivist sourcing of knowledge, especially in contentious contexts. The archive’s configuration, and attendant mechanisms of classification, apprehension, and attribution indicate colonial governance just as much as inscribed histories and discourses. Scholarship on the Zionist movement in early-20th century Palestine has been slow to adopt the analytical shift from archive as source to archive as subject. This article examines archiving, forms of classification, and the organization of settler colonial history in the context of the Zionist movement’s leftist pole. Cases from the author’s fieldwork are used to introduce the term archives of apprehension: how the informational practices and anxiety over territorial reversibility that settler colonial archives are built upon in fact preserve the collective indigenous presence that colonization tries to marginalize. The article concludes by considering how historical sociology can better instrumentalize such archives to learn about the emergence and endurance of entangled settler/native socialites.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)25-47
Number of pages23
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Archive
  • Palestine/Israel
  • indigenous
  • settler colonial memory
  • settler colonialism


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