Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Geography, Birzeit University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2011
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Geography, University of Minnesota / Twin Cities
Hidden Ecologies: A Spatial History of Palestinian Agriculture in the West Bank

Why was agricultural development the earliest and most important facet of Israeli-Palestinian interaction in the West Bank after 1967? This curious historical moment illustrates a deep and enduring scientific interest in the farming and conservation practices of Palestinians over the past forty years. Although numerous recent studies have explored the spatial reorganization of the West Bank, the impact of agricultural development and conservation programs on Palestinian cultivation practices and local environments is not known. This research project seeks to understand the overlooked responses of Palestinian farmers and environmental relief groups to conventional agronomic interventions. To address this lacuna, my study will follow the soil and water conservation programs that have been implemented in the West Bank since 1967. Soil and water conservation offers an opportunity to explore environmental stewardship practices that garner significant attention today, especially given growing concern over the effects of climatic change. Local practices play a decisive role in the ability of Palestinian cultivators and communities to adapt to environmental shifts, particularly climatic variability. This research will reconstruct the historical emergence of a landscape of agricultural variation, adaptation and vulnerability for Palestinian farmers; a landscape produced by the conjuncture of scientific knowledge, political forces, and ecological processes in the West Bank. This ‘spatial history’ will illustrate how the agronomic regime of knowledge articulates with the spatial regime of occupation to produce a terrain of vulnerability in which Palestinian farmers are differentially positioned to handle environmental and climatic change. I propose that an exploration of the ecological and social effects of agronomic interventions will better enable us to understand Palestinian environmental responses within a structure of political and economic constraints.