Kotef, Hagar. Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015.
We live within political systems that increasingly seek to control movement, organized around both the desire and ability to determine who is permitted to enter what sorts of spaces, from gated communities to nation-states. In Movement and the Ordering of Freedom, Hagar Kotef examines the roles of mobility and immobility in the history of political thought and the structuring of political spaces. Ranging from the writings of Locke, Hobbes, and Mill to the sophisticated technologies of control that circumscribe the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, this book shows how concepts of freedom, security, and violence take form and find justification via “regimes of movement.” Kotef traces contemporary structures of global (im)mobility and resistance to the schism in liberal political theory, which embodied the idea of “liberty” in movement while simultaneously regulating mobility according to a racial, classed, and gendered matrix of exclusions.
Table of Contents
1. Between Imaginary Lines: Violence and Its Justifications at the Military Checkpoints in Occupied Palestine / Hagar Kotef and Merav Amir
2. An Interlude: A Tale of Two Roads—On Freedom and Movement
3. The Fence That “Ill Deserves the Name of Confinement”: Locomotion and the Liberal Body
4. The Problem of “Excessive” Movement
5. The “Substance and Meaning of All Things Political”: On Other Bodies
HAGAR KOTEF is based at the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University.
This article offers an examination of the role of buses in Palestinian protest actions directed at an international audience. These demonstrations occur as part of a post-Oslo strategic shift in which Palestinian resistance has de-prioritised leader-centred negotiations in favour of grassroots mobilisation that directly appeals to international civil society. Given this strategy, the bus is a useful vehicle, both literally and symbolically, for transmitting the message of Palestinian demands for freedom. First, the bus powerfully evokes the triumphs of an earlier generation of activists fighting racial segregation. Second, as a recognisable form of public transportation and mobility, the use of the bus allows Palestinian activists to focus international solidarity on one of the central hardships of occupied life: the denial of the right to freedom of movement, which entrenches the ongoing separation of Palestinians across Palestine.
Israel’s system of closure divides Palestinian citizens of Israel from Palestinians of the West Bank. For members of both categories, road journeys spur political analysis, explicitly stated or implicitly packed into jokes or offhand comments. If, in liberal traditions, political knowledge is idealized as disembodied, abstract, and dispassionate, Palestinian knowledge gained while driving is none of these things. Yet it can provide important insights into the operations of Israeli power less easily represented in more formal outlets. Because the road system is an everyday site at which its users come into contact with the work of the state, driving is an important practice through which to examine popular conceptions of politics. Still, these two communities of Palestinians face obstacles in communicating about shared understandings of space and politics. In examining everyday political knowledge of subaltern people, we must attend to varieties of subalterneity to examine how these differences can perpetuate marginalization.