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"The Constitution of State/Space and the Limits of 'Autonomy' in South Africa and Palestine/Israel."

Monday, October 21, 2013
12:00 AM
Room 1636 SSWB/International Institute, 1080 South University

This paper presents a comparative historical analysis of similar state spatial strategies employed by Israel and South Africa.  At different world-historical times, both states created “autonomous” spaces inside the territory over which they exercised sovereignty. In these spaces—“Bantustans” in the language of apartheid, “Area A” in the language of the Oslo Accords—Palestinians and black South Africans could exercise limited “autonomy” and perhaps even nominal “independence” but remained subject to the sovereign power of the state.  Focusing on three dimensions of these state spatial strategies (citizenship, governmentality, and labor regulation), the first part of this chapter argues that the production of these “spaces of exception” is fundamental to the constitution of sovereignty in colonial-settler states. The second half of the chapter considers the imperial transition of the 1990s as an intervening mechanism in the production of state/space.  Global power relations were fundamentally transformed in the late twentieth century as a result of the military dominance of the United States, the unprecedented power of multinational corporations, and the global hegemony of neoliberal economics. This transition helps explain four important differences between the Bantustan strategy in South Africa and the enclosure strategy in Palestine/Israel.  By analyzing state strategies to produce spaces of exception before and after this shift in global power relations, I hope to contribute to the analysis of sovereignty in the empire of the early twenty-first century.