Accepted Paper:

«Liquid truth»: How the story of a demolished Bedouin village in Israel travels around the world  


Alexander Koensler (University of Perugia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how the story of a demolished Bedouin village in Israel travels around the world: a local event that is reinterpreted by international activists, journalists and bloggers. By focusing on global connections in a specific locality, social reality is recuptured in new terms.

Paper long abstract:

In the Israeli Negev desert, home demolitions in «unrecognized» (that is, not authorized by the government) Bedouin villages are a «hot» issue. This study tries to follow the flow of discourses, funds, and people around the very specific event of home demolition in Al-Twail. Informed by Anna L.-Tsings "ethnography of global connections" and by Complex System Theory, this study moves forth and back between a specific place and its global connections. The village of Al-Twail has been demolished seven times during my Ph.D. fieldwork last year, but has been always reconstructed. A wide range of Human Rights activities has been taken place; international journalists and politicians came to visit the place, blogs and newsletters talked about the demolions at global scale.

This is a «travelling story» about global solidarity based on systematic misunderstandings: the very place of demolitions and reconstructions is subject to different interests, desires, and realities; multiple and contradictionary «truths» are negotiated. For example, in contrast to some news reports, it has never been really inhabitated.

From a methodological perspective, this approach has been possible by shifting classical assumptions about what is a «comunity» and what is the «field» in order to recupture the local in new terms. Consequently, the way how we understand the production of social reality is framed in different terms: the «truth» about that very place itself seems to become liquid.

Panel IW05
Local encounters with the global: diversity of anthropological fieldwork approaches in globalization studies