“He Is Not Clean:” an Ethnography of Surveillance and Emotions Among Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Israel

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:00 PM
Room: 303
Oral Presentation
Silvia PASQUETTI , Sociology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Drawing on insights from works on the affective dimension of the law and on recent theorization of emotions as transpersonal and collective phenomena, this paper explores how the use of political informers by the modern state’s security agencies can shape emotional relationships among members of targeted populations. Specifically, based on ethnographic fieldwork within and across a West Bank refugee camp and the Arab districts of an Israeli city, I explain how the state practice of recruiting “collaborators” (informers) produces distinct meanings and emotions in these two localities. Camp dwellers react to political informing through collective informal social control, personal investment in the camp residents’ reputation, and support for the physical expulsion and even violent death of alleged “informers.” City residents experience political informing as a form of “symbolic dirt” that circulates in all public and private spaces, ambiguously mixes with criminal forms of informing, and mediates affective and social ties among neighbors, friends, and family members. I also explore the distinct predicament of former “collaborators” who were relocated by the state’s security apparatus from the West Bank to the Israeli city where I conducted fieldwork. By focusing on the entanglement between political informing, moral claims, feelings of belonging and betrayal, and practices of physical expulsion and relocation among differently situated Palestinian Arabs, this paper aims to theorize the role of the state’s security apparatus in shaping emotional relationships and responses among targeted people.