Struggling for Time
Environmental Governance and Agrarian Resistance in Israel/Palestine
Natalia Gutkowski



“Look at all these people sitting here—they have so much time. No one else has as much time as they do,” the veteran agricultural economist whispered to me while we listened to the head of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture’s Planning Authority. It was a winter day in February 2014, and we were seated in the ministry headquarters’ meeting room in Beit Dagan in the country’s center. In this room, thirty-five Jewish-Israeli representatives of governmental and nongovernmental organizations for agriculture and rural areas were deliberating at length over the new Planning Policy for Agriculture and Rural Development. The eighty-year-old economist was frustrated with the bureaucratic process, yet he’d also captured a larger significance of “time-having” in the agrarian environment in Israel/Palestine.1

The meeting’s participants discussed and regulated various forms of agrarian time as matters of the state. They imagined a historic period and cultural legacy that encompassed biblical ancestry alongside Zionist-created cooperative models and contemporary Israeli innovations in science and technology.2 They produced an agrarian imaginary, arranging and choosing specific times and peoples that are included in policy while neglecting other forms of understanding the local agrarian landscape and its stories of origin and development.3

Absent but present by other means in this meeting and in this policy were Palestinian Arab citizens and their farming villages, towns, and families. They had no representatives in most of the planning process and were only briefly mentioned during the discussions and in the new policy program. When mentioned, Palestinian citizens were referred to in phrases such as “the minorities’ villages” or “the traditional Arab agriculture.” Often, they were discussed without referring to any collective identity but simply by naming a town that locals know to associate with an ethnic-national identity. Out of the 250-page planning policy, only a five-page section summarized the development and preservation needs of “Arab agriculture.”4

But even though Palestinian citizens were never explicitly mentioned, their agriculture significantly emerged in policymaking. Planners discussed the importance of preserving societal, cultural, and heritage values that are enlivened through agrarian landscapes. They said that Western countries are adopting policies that support the preservation of “traditional agrarian landscapes” as a part of their cultural heritage and for developing rural areas’ tourism. Finally, the policy document stated: “The image of the agrarian landscape is entwined with the biblical tales and the birth of Christianity and embodies an important component of the historical image of the land. The biblical landscape is the backdrop of tourism that wishes to experience the Bible.” Then it listed such sites in specific towns scattered across the region of Galilee, where Palestinian smallholders’ terraced olive groves and small-scale agriculture characterize the landscape.5

The description of contemporary Palestinian agriculture as a “biblical landscape” was repeated in agrarian environments’ policy discussions throughout my fieldwork. Struck by this characterization, I sometimes felt on the verge of asking the Palestinian agriculturalists how it feels to have Israeli state servants call your work “biblical agriculture.” But I never did. I thought that equating Palestinian practices with biblical times evokes a nineteenth-century orientalist heritage.6 Then, who is this imaginary of the Palestinian agriculturalist for and why does it persist? What work does the appropriation of Palestinian agrarian time do in the world today?

This contemporary political use of “biblical time” is not a mere gambit—time is deployed in multiple ways in the agrarian environment. At its core, agriculture is the biological engineering of nature. As such, it is imbued with temporal and technical practices that intervene in natural rhythms, compressing or expanding the seasonality and cyclicality of germinating, ripening, harvest, storage, and circulation time. These practices shift time from a natural cycle to an economic, political, and cultural object. Similarly, agrarian imaginaries of the landscape and of the people cultivating it are not arbitrary or natural. Rather, they are engineered and collectively designed as ideas that are materialized through the agrarian environment creating new socioecological worlds in which some win and others lose.7

This book focuses on exploring the process in which some groups “have so much time” in the agrarian environment while others are dispossessed of their time. A fundamental argument of this ethnography is that time is central to power and domination in the agrarian environment in Israel/Palestine and beyond. I ask how time is used as a mechanism of colonization for the Israeli state’s control over the agrarian environment and how Palestinian agriculture professionals survive and resist daily such uses of power. A settler society, I posit, must necessarily erase native time and claim its own societal time as indigenous to inhabit and colonize the land. In this way, the settler society makes moral claims to justify its settler project. Traveling across both policymaking arenas and agrarian environments in Israel/Palestine, I examine how Jewish and Palestinian citizens, state officials, scientists, planners, and agriculturalists use time as a tool of collective agency, and I show how agriculture is a field uniquely amenable to governance through time.

Producing theory from Israel/Palestine about a struggle for time, I make a twofold and scalable argument: the colonization of time is central to settler colonial societies, and time is a focus of power in agrarian environments’ politics during climate change. Contemporary practices of operating time as domination in agrarian environments principally emerge through policies, markets, science, technologies, landscape planning, and bureaucracy; hence, I flesh out how time works as a tool of “slow violence” rather than a prominent, immediate, or spectacular form of violence.8 By shifting the analysis from the commonly observed space and territory in Israel/Palestine to time, the book offers new insight into the operation of power locally, in settler colonial societies, and in agrarian environments at large.

An understanding of how time becomes power in agrarian governance is particularly urgent given the challenges of climate change and the environmental crisis. Agriculture practitioners are confronting dwindling resources, changing seasons, new ways of modeling change, and multiple ways of predicting, planning, preserving, preparing, securing, anticipating, and speculating for an uncertain future. Governments, corporations, and consumer and producer movements are responding to climate concerns through actions that represent two socioeconomic sides of the same past-present-future anxiety coin. For instance, the passion for heirloom seeds, regenerative agriculture, “slow food,” and maintenance of agrarian heritage systems often engages conservation politics, both preserving and re-creating socioecological memory and practice in the present as well as upholding a future potentiality for the use of such seeds, biodiverse systems, and knowledge.9 On the other hand, the creation of food-tech and climate-smart worlds, as well as the global land rush are motivated by the politics of future global food security along with profit making from the crisis. These are all struggles for time as power in the agrarian environment.10 To conceptualize such struggles for time, I develop throughout the book the notion of a time grab to describe an appropriation process that occurs under agrarian temporal justifications such as care for the agrarian heritage or the agrarian future of a collectivity.

Predictions of climate futures in the Middle East highlight that agriculture will be disproportionally affected by climate change and will likely increase political instability.11 Yet, agriculture and food politics do not exist in a void. Agri-environmental challenges during climate change are situated within power and domination structures in which resource sovereignty, territory and environmental justice are a great concern for marginalized communities rather than consciously framing their struggles as a climate agenda.12 Yet, the analysis of these sorts of struggles allows us to trace the reasons, the consequences, and the interventions needed for climate change adaptation in agrarian settings and beyond.

Common portrayals of climate change describe the future of the climate crisis as an eschatological process, resulting in the end of the world as we know it. But colonized communities globally have already known and endured the ending of worlds and see climate change as a continuation of colonial violence and not as an aberration.13 Then instead of advocating an emergency horizon of “a race against time” as many climate activists propose,14 fearing dystopic futures but failing to win big-money interests in climate politics, it may be that there are important lessons to learn from the experience of colonized peoples about survival, societal adaptation, resilience, living in ruins and in “the world ends,” and struggling for just societies. This line of thought does not deny the need for an immediate response to climate change, but it is an invitation to find alternative futures within different locales, different scales of thinking, and temporalities other than the dystopic and apocalyptic ones. Thus, this book’s reflections on settler colonial encounters in agrarian environments in Israel/Palestine and beyond are intended to facilitate an understanding of possible times to come and how temporal images and experiences materialize to control or decolonize.

Settling Time

The societal development in Israel/Palestine is similar to early settler colonial societies such as Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa, and Argentina. These societies have developed as settler colonial due to a process of immigration, settlement, the displacement and replacement of the indigenous population, spatial segregation, and the formalization and institutionalization of settlers’ political and economic privileges vis-à-vis the indigenous population.15 Often, the emergence or consolidation of settler colonial societies is grounded in a political imagination technique articulating the land as “terra nullius,” an unowned empty land, therefore available for colonization.16

While these societal characteristics in Israel/Palestine match global settler colonial histories, Jews have been an integral part of the Middle Eastern region for centuries. A Jewish minority lived within the population of Palestine in the early twentieth century.17 But with the ethnonational basis of the Zionist movement, Jews of Middle Eastern origin (Mizrahim) have come to occupy a privileged societal status relative to Palestinians although, on internal Jewish terrains, Mizrahim have been marginalized into a lower settler social class. This process shattered the shared multiethnic life of Jews and Arabs in Palestine in the earlier twentieth century, and it allows contextualizing how Jews local to the region have gradually become settlers in a settler colonial process.18

The dominant viewpoint among Jewish Israelis is that they are descendants of the ancient indigenous people who returned to their ancestral land to reclaim their traditions and roots and to build a national home for Jews. Consequently, Zionism has been simultaneously a national movement and a settler colonial process assembling Jewish national self-determination on the expense of Palestinians.19 The Jewish-Zionist return has materialized through ecological and agrarian worldmaking techniques.20 Yet, the notion of return is not unique to Israel/Palestine and it characterizes other settler societies too. The French settler colonists in Algeria described themselves as the inheritors of the Christian Romans, returning to Northern Africa and liberating it from centuries of Islam. They saw France as the successor of Rome and the settler colonists as resurrecting the ancient granary of Rome in the Maghreb. They became invested in large agro-environmental projects to expand cultivation and forest areas, facilitating land and resource appropriation.21 Pointing at the political interplay of Jewish return to a land that Jews had sparsely inhabited during previous centuries and populated only in ancient history helps me explain in nuance my book’s focus.

I highlight that as space and time are entangled and coproduced,22 we must understand how an indigenous society not only is removed from its local space but is dispossessed from its time. I point out time as a multilayered tool of power but also as a tool of social agency, collective orientation, and action. By so doing I conceptualize the political dynamic in settler colonial societies beyond its dominant spatial-territorial account highlighting the importance of a temporal analysis and theorization of a settler colonial dynamic. Dominant accounts emphasize that the settler society’s central aim is to replace the native society. To achieve replacement, settler societies are centered on spatial occupation and land appropriation as a means of establishing a new colonial society.23 Palestinians have been removed from the land through capital-based land acquisitions prior to 1948, historical and contemporaneous dispossession through legal proceedings, and wartime ethnic cleansing in 1948. These practices shed light on the continuity of Palestinian elimination from space and territory as a recurring dynamic. While Palestinians are eliminated from space, the Israeli society expanded its settlement project altogether.24 Yet, if we understand that there has been a spatial dispossession process as well as resistance to it, how does it occur in temporal terms?

I argue Israel is settling time in a twofold manner. First, Israel is settling social time with Jewish-Israeli cultural, national, and settler colonial significances that aim to reclaim ancestral belonging in the land and erase Palestinian social time. This is exemplified by the governmental practice of articulating Palestinian agriculture as “biblical” agriculture rather than recognizing it as a Palestinian agrarian heritage (notwithstanding that the Bible is also a Palestinian heritage). Second, Israel is settling time as a mediation practice.25 Settling time is a means of bridging the nonaligning and conflicting “capitalist time” of Israel’s industrialized agriculture time and the imagined “biblical time” that Israeli agriculture allegedly stems from and is striving to revive. The political practice of mediation between time conflicts assists the state in morally and politically justifying its existence as a Jewish State.

Palestinian citizens’ agriculture has become a central site assisting the state to mediate between conflicting forms of time. Imagining Palestinian agriculture as biblical both erases Palestinian agriculture’s collective heritage and disregards the reality of contemporary Palestinians cultivating agriculture and culture. Therefore, Israel’s double-time settling techniques are a form of slow violence. According to Rob Nixon, slow violence is a gradual, dispersed, and accumulating form of violence. It is slow because it is non-spectacular, non-immediate, and non-explosive but it inflicts harm personally and collectively.26

The settler colonial scholarship defines the recurrence of settler invasion as a “structure” rather than a singular event.27 Looking at the latter process in temporal terms, the continuous dispossession experience is termed “the ongoing Nakba” (al-nakba al-mustamirra), referring to the experience of continuous loss of Palestinian homeland not as a singular event that occurred in the 1948 War, but rather a steady experience that Palestinians have continued to endure ever since. Recent indigenous and Palestine scholarship highlights that settler invasion is not the only structural feature of the settler colonial dynamic. Native struggles for survival, return, and sovereignty are also important structural characteristics.28 In this book, I highlight mundane Palestinian resistance through time claims, temporal orientation, and agrarian temporal practices, thus resituating Palestinians as active agents of history who use time as a tool of collective agency and social orientation.

While most contemporary scholarly accounts of Palestinian resistance to the settler society’s dispossession through agriculture are situated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), this literature has neglected the agriculture of Palestinian citizens of Israel for decades.29 Some of the Palestinian agriculture professionals whom I have talked to consider that “perhaps Israel has finished its land battles with Palestinian citizens and now the struggle is an internal societal struggle, for ’48 Arabs to conserve and renew our own agriculture.”30 Such a view is aware of its own societal challenges given the low esteem that Palestinian agriculture in Israel has had, but it also blurs agriculture and Palestinian agriculture as a contemporary form of politics in the Israeli state. This perception obfuscates the ways that Palestinian agriculture in Israel continues to challenge relations between the state and Palestinian citizens, despite its constant dismissal. Native American scholar Gerald Vizenor’s term survivance will be key in illuminating modes of Palestinian native presence and native existence as resistance over a history of absenting and erasing. Vizenor emphasizes that survivance is the repudiation of essentialized victimhood in native histories via the carrying of traditions and narratives that resist native erasure and produce sovereignty and liberty in the present.31

To recognize the nuances of the settler colonial encounter in Israel/Palestine, I note that Jewish-Zionist history is also a tale of survival, return, and sovereignty. This is due to the history of Jewish persecution and the effects of the Holocaust trauma on Israeli society.32 The Holocaust has most likely affected the Israeli state’s choices regarding modes of violence throughout its state history. Oren Yiftachel conceptualized this trauma’s effects as “colonialism of survival.”33 Other settler societies were subject to discrimination and persecution prior to settlement too, yet the Holocaust marks the Jewish-Israeli society as the only settler society that was subject to genocide.34 But the Zionist narrative of survival followed by the 1948 War and its effect on Palestinians erases the forceful removal of Palestinians from their land and the destruction it inflicted on Palestinian collectivity historically and contemporaneously.35

Furthermore, the Jewish-Israeli narrative of return to Israel as an ancestral land does not acknowledge why Palestinians would give up their land after only a few decades of its loss if Jews have craved their land for two thousand years since their deportation from it. The narratives of survival in Israel/Palestine call for an interrogation of the possibilities of articulating different pasts, presents, and futures to reimagine and unmake the settler colonial dynamic.36 Similarly, the circumvention of historical memory is a shared feature of settler societies that erase their violent pasts and create new national imaginaries, such as the myths of Thanksgiving or Columbus Day in North America.37

Despite settler societies’ tendency to erase their pasts and create new foundational stories,38 the discussion of time and its manipulations in settler colonial processes remains scarce. To date, the only systemic exploration of time in settler colonial contexts is Mark Rifkin’s pioneering monograph Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination.39 Grounded on American fiction and film analysis, Rifkin develops the notion of “settler time” that consigns native peoples to the past and embeds them in the present only to legitimize settler histories and geographies. Engaging with discussions on social change and intersectionality, I expand Rifkin’s work by including class dynamics in this process of ethnographically observing “temporal distancing” between settler and native. Such narration of a social story moves beyond the binary of the settler and native and sheds light on the possibility of native benefactors binding the native society to the “time of tradition” based on internal class distinction. Marking class distinction in settler colonial dynamics overcomes the tendency to essentialize identities and to think about the conditions of slippages between distinct societal locations or the alliances that may emerge as Jews and Palestinians are stuck together in this land.40

Settler colonial scholarship shows that settlers’ narratives use a linear conception of time fueled by ideas of Western modernity, progress, and the need to distance the settler society from its violent past to construct a new present. Indigenous notions of time are structured by a constant relation of the past and the present, building a future image that is grounded on an interpretation of the past, present, and the role of ancestry in the present and future.41 However, I aim to complicate this narrative by unpacking the stakes in the performance of the past as present for both the settler state and the native subject. Such interrogation allows us to critically observe the settler/native binary by seeing them as contextually defined.42 It further illustrates that time dispossession is integral to the settler colonial structure, but the ways time is deployed in different societies require analytical nuance.43

The settler colonial framework also enables us to observe political processes taking place throughout Israel/Palestine regardless of citizenship status and reveals the logic of control upon which Israel operates.44 Too often, scholarship on Israel/Palestine attends to the management of Palestinians under Israeli control since 1948 or since 1967 as subject to distinct technologies of domination. This divergent governance view is nurtured by the citizenship status that 1948 Palestinians are subjected to versus military control in the West Bank and Gaza.45 Alternatively, I illuminate time as a key factor of the Israeli settler colonial agenda, regardless of citizenship status. While this book’s ethnographic fieldwork focuses on the encounters of Palestinian citizens of Israel with the state, I insist on making connections to the political reality of the rest of Palestine’s population. Such a perspective allows observing governance rationales that extend across the perceived boundaries of the settler colonial regime.46 Understanding time as a form of power sheds light on possible futures in the land beyond the current moment. It allows us to think about time as a layered concept that functions as a multiplex mechanism of governing from the past to the future.


1. The articulation Israel/Palestine allows destabilizing a simplification of Israel and Palestine or understanding them as separate or distinct. I place Israel first in this construct only to indicate that this book focuses ethnographically on the 1948 borders of the Israeli state or historic mandatory Palestine excluding Gaza and the West Bank.

2. Kibbutzim are collective communities created as early as 1909 in Palestine/Israel, aiming to create an intentional community functioning internally in the ethos of Zionist socialism. Moshavim were established as cooperative communities also in the early twentieth century. These cooperative rural communities are considered the backbone of the ethos of Israeli rural areas.

3. One such alternative agrarian ancestry periodization could look at the Natufian hunter-gatherer society remnants identified in the woodland of the Mediterranean zone in the Carmel, Galilee, and in the Jordan Valley. These remnants reveal plant cultivation and animal domestication from 10,000 BCE. The Natufians are considered the forefathers of the agrarian revolution and arguably could have been also celebrated proudly through this policy, but they are not. Perhaps because their story has a universal significance rather than a periodization recruited for the legitimization of settler nation history. See Romana Unger-Hamilton, “The Epi-Palaeolithic Southern Levant and the Origins of Cultivation,” Current Anthropology 30, no. 1 (1989): 88–103; Ofer Bar-Yosef and Richard H. Meadow, “The Origins of Agriculture in the Near East,” in Last Hunters, First Farmers: New Perspectives on the Prehistoric Transition to Agriculture, ed. T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgitte Gebauer, 39–94 (School of American Research Press, 1995); Tobias Richter et al., “High Resolution AMS Dates from Shubayqa 1, Northeast Jordan Reveal Complex Origins of Late Epipalaeolithic Natufian in the Levant,” Scientific Reports 7, no. 1 (2017): 1–10.

4. This section was written by a Palestinian Arab geographer from Haifa University who was hired to write it but who was not paid to participate in the large planning process.

5. See Misrad ha-haklaut, ha-rashut le-tikhnun (Ministry of Agriculture, the Planning Authority), Ha-tokhnit ha-leumit la-haklaut vela-kfar be-Yisrael, Mismakh #1 (The national protocol of planning policy of agriculture and rural areas in Israel, # 1), August 13, 2013, 67–68. The “traditional landscape” and landscape compounds for preservation were also crystallized in National Master Plan 35, which established Beit Netofa Valley (Sahl al-Battuf) and Mghar’s olive groves as landscape conservation areas. Ministry of Interior, Planning Administration, National Master Plan 35, approved on September 6, 2016,

6. Khaled Furani and Dan Rabinowitz, “The Ethnographic Arriving of Palestine,” Annual Review of Anthropology 40 (2011): 475–491.

7. Paige West, From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea (Duke University Press, 2012); Frieda Knobloch, The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture as Colonization in the American West (University of North Carolina Press, 1996); Kusum Nair, In Defense of the Irrational Peasant: Indian Agriculture after the Green Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 1979); Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (Columbia University Press, 1983); Irus Braverman, “Nof kdumim: Remaking the Ancient Landscape in East Jerusalem’s National Parks,” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4, no. 1 (2021): 109–134.

8. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard University Press, 2011).

9. Virginia Nazarea, Heirloom Seeds and Their Keepers: Marginality and Memory in the Conservation of Biological Diversity (University of Arizona Press, 2005); Michael S. Carolan, “Saving Seeds, Saving Culture: A Case Study of a Heritage Seed Bank,” Society and Natural Resources 20, no. 8 (2007): 739–750; Anne Meneley, “Hope in the Ruins: Seeds, Plants, and Possibilities of Regeneration,” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4, no. 1 (2021): 158–172.

10. S. Ryan Isakson, “Derivatives for Development? Small-Farmer Vulnerability and the Financialization of Climate Risk Management,” Journal of Agrarian Change 15, no. 4 (2015): 569–580; Hannah Bradley and Serena Stein, “Climate Opportunism and Values of Change on the Arctic Agricultural Frontier,” Economic Anthropology 9, no. 2 (2022): 207–222; Emily Reisman and Madeleine Fairbairn, “Agri-food Systems and the Anthropocene,” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 111, no. 3 (2020): 687–697; Emily Reisman, “Sanitizing Agri-food Tech: COVID-19 and the Politics of Expectation,” The Journal of Peasant Studies 48, no. 5 (2021): 910–933; Peter Hazell and Panos Varangis, “Best Practices for Subsidizing Agricultural Insurance,” Global Food Security 25 (2020): 100326; Marcus Taylor, “Climate-Smart Agriculture: What Is It Good For?,” The Journal of Peasant Studies 45, no. 1 (2018): 89–107.

11. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2018–2027 (OECD Publishing and FAO, 2018),; FAORNE, Regional Overview of Food Insecurity: Near East and North Africa (FAO, 2016); Jan Selby et al., “Climate Change and the Syrian Civil War Revisited,” Political Geography 60 (2017): 232–244; Dan Rabinowitz, The Power of Deserts (Stanford University Press, 2020); Andrew S. Mathews and Jessica Barnes, “Prognosis: Visions of Environmental Futures,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 22, no. S1 (2016): 9–26; Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, “An Uncertain Climate in Risky Times: How Occupation Became Like the Rain in Post-Oslo Palestine,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 3 (2018): 383–404.

12. Saturnino M. Borras Jr. and Jennifer C. Franco, “The Challenge of Locating Land-Based Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Politics within a Social Justice Perspective: Towards an Idea of Agrarian Climate Justice,” Third World Quarterly 39, no. 7 (2018): 1308–1325; Andrew S. Mathews, “Anthropology and the Anthropocene: Criticisms, Experiments, and Collaborations,” Annual Review of Anthropology 49 (2020): 67–82; Katharine Bradley and Hank Herrera, “Decolonizing Food Justice: Naming, Resisting, and Researching Colonizing Forces in the Movement,” Antipode 48, no. 1 (2016): 97–114; E. Melanie DuPuis and David Goodman, “Should We Go ‘Home’ to Eat?: Toward a Reflexive Politics of Localism,” Journal of Rural Studies 21, no. 3 (2005): 359–371.

13. Muna Dajani, “Danger, Turbines! A Jawlani Cry against Green Energy Colonialism in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights,” London School of Economics Middle East Centre, blog post, May 20, 2020; Muna Dajani, “How Palestine’s Climate Apartheid Is Being Depoliticised,” Open Democracy, February 25, 2022; Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None (University of Minnesota Press, 2018); Kyle Whyte, “Indigenous Climate Change Studies: Indigenizing Futures, Decolonizing the Anthropocene,” English Language Notes 55, no. 1 (2017): 153–162; Kyle P. Whyte, “Indigenous Science (Fiction) for the Anthropocene: Ancestral Dystopias and Fantasies of Climate Change Crises,” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 1, no. 1–2 (2018): 224–242; Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World (Princeton University Press, 2015); Gabi Kirk, “Confronting the Twin Crises of Climate Change and Occupation in Palestine,” Arab Studies Journal 30, no. 2 (2022): 90–95.

14. See “Our Urgent Demand” Greta Thunberg, November 1, 2021, email to the public through the Avaaz advocacy network; or the repetition of “a race against time” as a phrase and as a meaning in Rabinowitz, The Power of Deserts.

15. Areej Sabbagh-Koury delineates the relevance of this paradigm and its genealogy in the case of Israel and its Palestinian citizens. Sabbagh-Khoury, “Tracing Settler Colonialism: A Genealogy of a Paradigm in the Sociology of Knowledge Production in Israel,” Politics & Society 50, no. 1 (2021),; Nadim N. Rouhana and Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, “Settler-Colonial Citizenship: Conceptualizing the Relationship between Israel and Its Palestinian Citizens,” Settler Colonial Studies 5, no. 3 (2015): 205–225; Gershon Shafir, Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1914, vol. 20 (University of California Press, 1996); Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Research 8, no. 4 (2006): 387–409; Tom Pessah, “The Distinction of Violence: Representing Lethal Cleansing in Settler Colonial Societies,” PhD diss., Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, 2014.

16. Stuart Banner, “Why Terra Nullius? Anthropology and Property Law in Early Australia,” Law and History Review 23, no. 1 (2005): 95–131; Michael Asch, “From Terra Nullius to Affirmation: Reconciling Aboriginal Rights with the Canadian Constitution,” Canadian Journal of Law & Society/La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société 17, no. 2 (2002): 23–39; Alexandre Kedar, Ahmad Amara, and Oren Yiftachel, Emptied Lands: A Legal Geography of Bedouin Rights in the Negev (Stanford University Press, 2018); Lucy Taylor, “Four Foundations of Settler Colonial Theory: Four Insights from Argentina,” Settler Colonial Studies 11, no. 3 (2021): 344–365.

17. Ann Stoler notes that no imperial society is identical to another and so I extend her analysis to the settler colonial context, too, in noting how the place of Jews in the Middle East helps us think of the unique aspects of the Zionist story. Stoler,” On Degrees of Imperial Sovereignty,” Public Culture 18, no. 1 (2006): 125–46. Lior B. Sternfeld, Between Iran and Zion (Stanford University Press, 2020); Orit Bashkin, New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq (Stanford University Press, 2012); Michelle Campos, Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2010). Settler colonial societies also include “arrivants,” non-European immigrants, who served the settler colonial society as laboring bodies. The social channeling of Mizrahi immigrants to blue-collar labor does just that. Jodi Byrd refers to the term arrivant based on Caribbean poet and scholar Edward Kamau Braithwaite. Byrd, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

18. The story of Palestine Jews allows us to examine moving from the category of native to the category of settler. See Yuval Evri and Hagar Kotef, “When Does a Native Become a Settler? (With Apologies to Zreik and Mamdani),” Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, June 15, 2020,; Yuval Ben-Bassat, “The Challenges Facing the First Aliyah Sephardic Ottoman Colonists,” Journal of Israeli History 35, no. 1 (2016): 3–15; Piergiorgio Di Giminiani, Martin Fonck, and Paolo Perasso, “Can Natives Be Settlers? Emptiness, Settlement and Indigeneity on the Settler Colonial Frontier in Chile,” Anthropological Theory 21, no. 1 (2021): 82–106.

19. The struggle over indigeneity is not the only confusing aspect of settler colonialism in Palestine/Israel although settlers’ claiming indigeneity in the nation state is a shared phenomenon of settler colonial societies. In English and Hebrew, the popular use of the term settlers usually refers to Mitnahalim, Israelis who, in violation of international law, live in the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). But the settler colonial analysis assigns settlerhood to the whole Jewish-Israeli society that settled in Palestine following the Zionist movement’s establishment. Thus, the term Mityashvim, which is used in Hebrew mostly to describe Israelis who live in rural areas in the internationally recognized 1949 borders of Israel, is applied to all Israelis. Part of the linguistic effort to legitimize Jewish settlers in the OPT is to name the 1967 settlements Mityashvim too. See Daniel Monterescu and Ariel Handel, “Liquid Indigeneity: Wine, Science, and Colonial Politics in Israel/Palestine,” American Ethnologist 46, no. 3 (2019): 313–327; Dafna Hirsch, “‘Hummus Is Best When It Is Fresh and Made by Arabs’: The Gourmetization of Hummus in Israel and the Return of the Repressed Arab,” American Ethnologist 38, no. 4 (2011): 617–630; Rachel Busbridge, “Israel-Palestine and the Settler Colonial ‘Turn’: From Interpretation to Decolonization,” Theory, Culture & Society 35, no. 1 (2018): 91–115.

20. Irus Braverman, Planted Flags: Trees, Land, and Law in Israel/Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2009); Irus Braverman, Settling Nature: The Conservation Regime in Palestine-Israel (University of Minnesota Press, 2023); Omar Tesdell, “Wild Wheat to Productive Drylands: Global Scientific Practice and the Agroecological Remaking of Palestine,” Geoforum 78 (2017): 43–51; Tamar Novick, Milk and Honey: Technologies of Plenty in the Making of a Holy Land (MIT Press, 2023).

21. In a recent interview, Lorenzo Veracini details the many ways that the notion of return frames many settler movements: “returning to the land, returning to an authentic consciousness, returning to an invigorating environment, returning to a prerevolutionary world” and addresses the specific geographic cases. Abe Silberstein, “A Logic of Elimination,” Conversation, Jewish Currents, January 11, 2022,; see also Patricia M. E. Lorcin, “Rome and France in Africa: Recovering Colonial Algeria’s Latin Past,” French Historical Studies 25, no. 2 (2002): 295–329; Diana K. Davis, Resurrecting the Granary of Rome: Environmental History and French Colonial Expansion in North Africa, vol. 58 (Ohio University Press, 2007); Will D. Swearingen, “In Pursuit of the Granary of Rome: France’s Wheat Policy in Morocco, 1915–1931,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 17, no. 3 (1985): 347–363.

22. Jon May and Nigel Thrift, eds., Timespace: Geographies of Temporality, vol. 13 (Routledge, 2003); Laura Bear, “Time as Technique,” Annual Review of Anthropology 45 (2016): 487–502.

23. The Zionist movement and later the Israeli state worked toward the settlement and Judaization of space and in parallel, its de-Arabization in multiple forms under different political regimes in the past 150 years. From approximately fifty small Jewish settlements in 1917, one hundred years later there were 1,176 Jewish settlements in this land, some of which are major cities. Oren Yiftachel, Landed Power: Israel/Palestine between Ethnocracy and Creeping Apartheid (Resling Press, 2021). Under the settler colonial framework, these seemingly distinct political subjectivities collapse as all Jewish-Israeli citizens share the position of settling the land benefitting racialized privileges vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

24. Rabea Eghbariah, “Israeli Law and the Rule of Colonial Difference,” Journal of Palestine Studies 51, no. 1 (2022): 73–77; Amos Nadan, The Palestinian Peasant Economy under the Mandate: A Story of Colonial Bungling, vol. 37 (Harvard CMES, 2006); Alexandre Kedar, “Majority Time, Minority Time: Land, Nation, and the Law of Adverse Possession in Israel,” Tel Aviv UL Review 21 (1997): 665; Michael R. Fischbach, Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2003). Oren Yiftachel, Ethnocracy: Land and Identity Politics in Israel/Palestine (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); Kedar, Amara, and Yiftachel, Emptied Lands; Mikko Joronen and Mark Griffiths, “The Affective Politics of Precarity: Home Demolitions in Occupied Palestine,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 37, no. 3 (2019): 561–576.

25. Bear, Laura. “Doubt, Conflict, Mediation: The Anthropology of Modern Time,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 20 (2014): 3–30.

26. Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor.

27. Patrick Wolfe characterizes the settler colonial invasion as a structure and not an event in an article that became canonical in the recent writing on settler colonialism. Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.” Other researchers of Israel/Palestine have emphasized that the local reality manifests a process: Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, “Tracing Settler Colonialism”; Joyce Dalsheim, Israel Has a Jewish Problem: Self-Determination as Self-Elimination (Oxford University Press, USA, 2019).

28. James Clifford, Returns (Harvard University Press, 2013); Gerald Vizenor, ed., Survivance: Narratives of Native Presence (University of Nebraska Press, 2008); Nick Estes, Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019). Such literature is growing locally, analyzing a plethora of Palestinian return, resistance, and survival practices through Sumud (steadfastness) enacted through arts, culture, agriculture, the environment, and Palestinian knowledge production. See Khaled Furani, Silencing the Sea: Secular Rhythms in Palestinian Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2012); Nadeem Karkabi, “Self-Liberated Citizens: Unproductive Pleasures, Loss of Self, and Playful Subjectivities in Palestinian Raves,” Anthropological Quarterly 93, no. 4 (2020): 679–708; Ali Nijmeh, “Active and Transformative Sumud Among Palestinian Activists in Israel,” in Palestine and Rule of Power, 71–103 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019); Anne Meneley, “Resistance Is Fertile!,” Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture 14, no. 4 (2014): 69–78; Craig Larkin, “Jerusalem’s Separation Wall and Global Message Board: Graffiti, Murals, and the Art of Sumud,” The Arab Studies Journal 22, no. 1 (2014): 134–169; Nadim N. Rouhana and Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, “Memory and the Return of History in a Settler-Colonial Context: The Case of the Palestinians in Israel,” Interventions 21, no. 4 (2019): 527–550.

29. Anne Meneley, “Resistance Is Fertile!”; Anne Meneley, “Blood, Sweat and Tears in a Bottle of Palestinian Extra-Virgin Olive Oil,” Food, Culture & Society 14, no. 2 (2011): 275–292; Meneley, “Hope in the Ruins”; Emily McKee, “Divergent Visions: Intersectional Water Advocacy in Palestine,” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4, no. 1 (2021): 43–64; Caroline Abu-Sada, “Cultivating Dependence: Palestinian Agriculture under the Israeli Occupation,” in The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ed. A. Ophir, M. Givoni, and S. Ḥanafī, 15–30 (Zone Books, 2009).

30. Interview with agronomist Mughira Younis, February 2013. He is a main interlocutor in chapters 3 and 4.

31. Vizenor, Survivance; Gerald Robert Vizenor, Manifest Manners: Narratives on Postindian Survivance (University of Nebraska Press, 1999). For an elaborate distinction between Gerald Vizenor’s notion of survivance versus Jacques Derrida’s, see Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Divergent Survivances,” E-Flux Journal, no. 121, October 2021, Other scholars have illustrated spatiotemporalities of survivance and resistance to colonial captivity. See, for instance, Nadeem Karkabi and Aamer Ibraheem, “On Fleeing Colonial Captivity: Fugitive Arts in the Occupied Jawlan,” Identities 29, no. 5 (2022): 691–710; Omri Grinberg, “Witnessing and Testimony as Event: Israeli NGOs, Palestinian Witnesses, and the Undoing of Human Rights Bureaucracy,” The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 39, no. 1 (2021): 93–110; Nayrouz Abu Hatoum, “Decolonizing [in the] Future: Scenes of Palestinian Temporality,” Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography 103, no. 1 (August 2021): 1–16.

32. Carol A. Kidron, “Toward an Ethnography of Silence: The Lived Presence of the Past in the Everyday Life of Holocaust Trauma Survivors and Their Descendants in Israel,” Current Anthropology 50, no. 1 (2009): 5–27; Yehuda C. Goodman and Nissim Mizrachi, “‘The Holocaust Does Not Belong to European Jews Alone’: The Differential Use of Memory Techniques in Israeli High Schools,” American Ethnologist 35, no. 1 (2008): 95–114; Jackie Feldman, “Between Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl: Changing Inscriptions of Sacrifice on Jerusalem’s ‘Mountain of Memory,’Anthropological Quarterly 80, no. 4 (Fall 2007): 1147–1174; Jackie Feldman, Above the Death Pits, beneath the Flag: Youth Voyages to Poland and the Performance of Israeli National Identity (Berghahn Books, 2008).

33. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, “Tracing Settler Colonialism”; Shay Hazkani, Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War (Stanford University Press, 2021); Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg, “Introduction: The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Syntax of History, Memory, and Political Thought,” in The Holocaust and the Nakba, 1–42 (Columbia University Press, 2018); Sari Hanafi, “Explaining Spacio-cide in the Palestinian Territory: Colonization, Separation, and State of Exception,” Current Sociology 61, no. 2 (2013): 190–205. Oren Yiftachel, “Territory as the kernel of the nation: space, time and nationalism in Israel/Palestine.” Geopolitics 7, no. 2 (2002): 215–248.

34. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury discusses this point in her article “Tracing Settler Colonialism,” and the only exception she notes is Afro-Brazilian genocide in Brazil, but I would not call this an act of population settlers; they were “arrivants,” according to Jodi Byrd’s analysis.

35. Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, “Memory for Forgetfulness: Conceptualizing a Memory Practice of Settler Colonial Disavowal,” Theory and Society 52, no. 2 (March 2023): 263–29; Noga Kadman, Erased from Space and Consciousness: Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948 (Indiana University Press, 2015); Hagar Kotef, The Colonizing Self: Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/Palestine (Duke University Press, 2020).

36. See, for instance, Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg, “Deliberating the Holocaust and the Nakba: Disruptive Empathy and Binationalism in Israel/Palestine,” Journal of Genocide Research 16, no. 1 (2014): 77–99.

37. Estes, Our History Is the Future; Dalsheim, Israel Has a Jewish Problem.

38. Jill Lepore, The Whites of Their Eyes (Princeton University Press, 2011).

39. Mark Rifkin, Beyond Settler Time (Duke University Press, 2017).

40. McKee, “Divergent Visions”; Safa Abu-Rabia, “Is Slavery Over? Black and White Arab Bedouin Women in the Naqab (Negev),” in Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel, 271–288 (University of California Press, 2012); Omri Grinberg, “Constructing Impossibility: Israeli State Discourses about Palestinian Child Labour,” Children & Society 30, no. 5 (2016): 396–409.

41. Estes, Our History Is the Future.

42. Joan Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (Columbia University Press, 1988); Evri and Kotef, “When Does a Native Become a Settler?”; Liron Shani, “Predatory Fleas, Sterile Flies, and the Settlers,” Cultural Anthropology 38, no. 1 (2023): 87–112.

43. See, for instance, Giordano Nanni, “Time, Empire and Resistance in Settler-Colonial Victoria,” Time & Society 20, no. 1 (2011): 5–33; Emma Kowal, “Time, Indigeneity and White Anti-racism in Australia,” The Australian Journal of Anthropology 26, no. 1 (2015): 94–111; Yara Sa’di-Ibraheem, “Settler Colonial Temporalities, Ruinations and Neoliberal Urban Renewal: The Case of Suknet Al-Huresh in Jaffa,” GeoJournal 87, no. 2 (2022): 661–675.

44. Some examples of such work includes Omar Jabary Salamanca et al., “Past Is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine.” Settler Colonial Studies 2, no. 1 (2012): 1–8; Amahl Bishara, “Driving while Palestinian in Israel and the West Bank: The Politics of Disorientation and the Routes of a Subaltern Knowledge,” American Ethnologist 42, no. 1 (2015): 33–54; Natalia Gutkowski, “Bodies That Count: Administering Multispecies in Palestine/Israel’s Borderlands,” Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 4, no. 1 (2021): 135–157; Eghbariah, “Israeli Law and the Rule of Colonial Difference”; Irus Braverman, “Wild Legalities: Animals and Settler Colonialism in Palestine/Israel,” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 44, no.1 (2021): 7–27; Braverman, Settling Nature.

45. See, for instance, Shira N. Robinson, Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State (Stanford University Press, 2013); Noura Erakat, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2020); Yael Berda, Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank, Stanford Briefs (Stanford University Press, 2017).

46. The term Green Line (or pre-1967 borders) refers to the demarcation on a map that formed the 1949 armistice agreements between the Israeli army and the armies of neighboring Arab countries following the 1948 war. Contemporaneously, to the west of the Green Line is Israel proper, and to its east the West Bank or the Occupied Palestinian Territory.