The Jerusalem-Hebron road: stories of occupation
(London School of Economics)
Paper short abstract:
The Jerusalem-Hebron Road in Palestine and Israel can only be fully traversed by a non-citizen of either. Though the road has an obvious ancient past, this paper uses ethnographic engagement with its users in the contemporary age to paint an ethnographic portrait of a road with a complicated story.
Paper long abstract:
This paper would explore one road in particular, the Jerusalem-Hebron Road (JHR) that connects from the contested capital of both Palestine and Israel, Jerusalem, through the Palestinian city of Bethlehem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, and south to the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron. The JHR serves its Israeli citizens in Jerusalem by resembling a multi-lane inner city traffic artery. Since 2005, the road ends for Israeli citizens at the entrance to Bethlehem city, where it is dissected by a checkpoint separating Bethlehemites from Jerusalem. The road then traverses Bethlehem city and eventually south to Hebron, now occupied by a settler minority.
Residents of the region remember a time when the road's traffic was not so bifurcated, when settlers and Israeli military vehicles too passed through Bethlehem, a time of division and occupation yet often remembered fondly as one of mixing and a less segregated past than the post-Oslo years have embodied.
Though the JHR has an obvious ancient past, this paper focuses on ethnographic engagement with its different users in the contemporary age. Ranging from parts of the two countries inaccessible to its differing citizens and occupied subjects, a journey along the full length of the JHR can only be undertaken by a non-citizen of either. This paper tells the stories of three road users; Israeli, Palestinian, and ethnographer, weaving these three narratives together to create one full ethnographic snapshot. An oral presentation of these narratives will be accompanied by background video footage of the road.
Streetscapes: affective encounters between People and Things