Settler colonialism, surveillance, and fear

Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the juxtaposition between the politics of fear and surveillance in the context of Israel, particularly surveillance of Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Surveillance refers to “an activity undertaken by all kinds of organizations, not only governmental ones, in order to keep track of populations and ensure that benefits, entitlements, and indeed rights, as well as debts or obligations, are appropriately distributed” (Lyon 2010:50), and involves “the collection and analysis of information about population in order to govern their activities” (Haggerty and Ericson 2006:3). I examine surveillance and fear through geopolitical policies (i.e., the policies of land control), biopolitical policies (i.e., demographic control), and necropolitical policies (i.e., control over who should live, who should die, and how). Through this analysis, I hope to show how Israel has managed to foment and use “fear” of the Palestinians as a tool both to intensify power over them and to justify its surveillance regime (Zureik, Lyon, and Abu-Laban 2010). The chapter discusses the use of fear as a tool to monitor and control the daily lives of Palestinians, and how fear of the “Arabs” or “Palestinians” serves the regime by producing desired behaviors among that population. The chapter relies on three main types of analyses for examining surveillance and fear. First, the geopolitical analysis looks at the control of the land as a tool of surveillance. This can be found in Israeli settler colonial policies aimed at the Judaization of large areas (Forman and Kedar 2004): land confiscations, housing demolitions, the destruction and erasure of entire villages, and the creation of new categories of control such as “unrecognized villages” (Kedar 2001; Yiftachel 2010). The chapter posits that in Israel, the creation of a geopolitical apparatus of unrecognized villages, land grabbing, and spatial fragmentation has segregated and separated Palestinian communities for the sake of controlling them, and created geographical zones populated by the “unwanted” and the “feared” (Bystrov and Soffer 2008; Shalhoub-Kevorkian 2012). The geography of surveillance and fear is produced and proliferated through laws and policies that affect the psychology and actions of the Israeli Jewish public and result in the construction of Palestinians as defamed and feared entities.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationIsrael and its Palestinian Citizens
Subtitle of host publicationEthnic Privileges in the Jewish State
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781107045316
ISBN (Print)9781107044838
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2017.


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