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Navigating the neoliberal settler city: Palestinian mobility in Jerusalem between exclusion and incorporation

Hanna Baumann

Year submitted: 2017
Supervised by: Prof Wendy Pullan

The mobility of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem is usually understood in terms of exclusion, reflecting their lack of access to urban services more broadly as well as the restrictive mobility regime at work across the Palestinian territories. Yet after fifty years of Israeli occupation, a more complex and contradictory situation has emerged in the city. This dissertation uses mobility as a vehicle to arrive at a more integrated understanding of the paradoxical manner in which Palestinian Jerusalemites are simultaneously excluded from and incorporated into the city and to analyse how they negotiate their interstitial and often contradictory position.

The thesis approaches the question of Palestinian quotidian movement by engaging with theoretical work on mobility and embodied movement as well as from empirical study including eight months of on-site research. In its three core sections, the work examines in detail several manifestations of the restriction, facilitation, and contested nature of mobility. In the first section, a discussion of Palestinian exclaves and enclaves of the city shows the continuities of mobility’s exclusionary effects on both sides of the Separation Wall. This limitation of movement leads to a restriction of spatio-political possibilities – but at the same time, Palestinians expand the horizon of what is possible through everyday and leisure practices. The second section employs two case studies of recent public transport developments in East Jerusalem to examine how incorporation is operationalised through everyday movements across urban space. The third section analyses the paradoxical role of mobility as the result of a tension between the settler colonial and the neoliberal logics concurrently at work in the city. On the one hand, the restriction of movement gradually renders the Palestinians as external to their city. On the other, the facilitation and regulation of mobility in East Jerusalem also serves to normalise Israeli rule and constitute Palestinians as incorporated urban residents, thereby undermining long-term aspirations for autonomy in the east of the city. The examination of the manner in which mobilities are contested in Jerusalem shows that movement, although often associated with freedom and independence, is essential for negotiating the terms of interdependence in the city.

PhD UCR Hannah