Neoliberal Settlement as Violent State Project
West Bank Settlement Homes and Real Estate Occupation
Intense ideological debates over the legal status of West Bank settlements and political campaigns objecting to or demanding their removal largely neglect the underlying capitalist processes that construct these settlements. Building upon the rich scholarship on the interrelations of militarism and capitalism, this study explores the relationship between capitalist and militarist occupation through housing development. Pointing to neoliberalism as central to the ways in which militarism and capitalism have played out in Israeli settlement dynamics since 1967, this paper unpacks the mutual dependency of the Israeli settlement project on real estate capitalism and neoliberal governance. Through historical study of the planning, financing, construction, and architecture of settlement dwellings as real estate, as well as interviews and analysis of settler-produced historiographies, this paper identifies the Occupied Territories (OT) as Israel’s testing ground for neoliberal governance and political economy. It presents a complementary historiography for the settlement project, identifying three distinct periods of settlement as the product of housing real estate: neoliberal experimentation (1967-1994), housing militarization (1994-2005), and “real-estate-ization” (2005-present). Drawing on Maron and Shalev (2017) and Springer (2014), this paper discusses neoliberal settlement as a violent state project, challenging conceptions of neoliberalism as rationalism as well as settlement as a public-housing enterprise.
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