Photo Credit: Rob Stothard
Colonial Management of Death: To be or Not to be Dead in Palestine
The latest article by former ACSS Postdoctoral Fellow, Suhad Daher-Nashef discusses how Israel uses necropolitical and biopolitical powers to manage Palestinian deaths.
During the late 1960s, Israel had a policy of withholding Palestinian corpses in secret cemeteries, in which each corpse was designated by a number, called the ‘secret cemeteries of numbers’. During the last Palestinian ‘al-Quds [Jerusalem] uprising’ in October 2015, Israel again began withholding killed Palestinians’ bodies, this time storing them in refrigerators. Tens of families experienced the detention and release of the frozen dead body of their relative. Drawing on 19 semi-structured interviews with families from al-Khalil (Hebron), this article traces Israel’s political use of Palestinian bodies to dismantle Palestinian collectivity, and the Palestinians’ use of the same bodies to rebuild their national collectivism. This article also describes Israel’s use of its necropolitical and biopolitical powers to manage the Palestinian death, and the resistance strategies used by Palestinian families to oppose these powers. This study argues that necropolitics includes the coloniser’s management of the colonised grief and bereavement, and the decisions about how, when, where and with whom the colonised should die. That is, it is the power to manage the structure and process of ‘letting die’ and being dead.