Academic journal article New Formations

Late Modern Subjects of Colonial Occupation: Mobile Phones and the Rise of Neoliberalism in Palestine

Academic journal article New Formations

Late Modern Subjects of Colonial Occupation: Mobile Phones and the Rise of Neoliberalism in Palestine

Article excerpt

Abstract Despite the abundance of research on Palestine, studies of Pahstinian political subjectivity and agency tend to adhere to the dominant analytical frames of nationalism and/or Islamism. This has led to the neglect of a variety of socio-economic and political developments that do not fit these frameworks. Working against the dominant trend, the present essay attempts to understand Palestinian politics in relationship to the wider changes associated with globaluation and fote modernity, focusing, in particular, on the globalisation of neoliberal subjectivities and political sensitivities. These themes are explored through a variety of discourses and struggles that have developed around mobile telephony in Palestine during the first years of the 2000s. Mobile telephony, it has been argued, epitomises a diversity of social processes and ideas that are connected to late modernity and globalisation of neoliberalism. In Palestine, however, the emergence of mobile telephony and the deterritorialmng qualities associated with it intersect with an uMra-territorial colonial occupation, resulting in a forgely unexamined space of multiple and clashing temporalities, spacialities and identifications. A study of these encounters builds an image of a late modern subject of colonial occupation, of a Palestinian subject that is increasingly individualised, hybridised, and hard to represent within the dominant ducourses of the Palestinians' struggle.

Keywords Palestine, neoliberalism, mobile telephones, late modernity, subjectivity, resistance, Jawwal, Israeli occupation, deterritorialisation, nationalism, hybridity, postcolonialism

Despite the abundance of research on Palestine, studies of Palestinian political subjectivity and agency tend to adhere to the dominant analytical frames of nationalism and/or Islamism. This is understandable, given the persistence of a colonial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which tends to set up the agenda and objectives of research on Palestine and the Middle East conflict. The problem, however, is that an extensive focus on nationalist and Islamic frameworks has led to a neglect of a variety of socio-economic and political developments that do not fit these frameworks, but which are also shaping the political landscape in Palestine.

Working against the trend, the present essay attempts to understand Palestinian politics in relationship to wider changes associated with globalisation and late modernity, focusing, in particular, on the globalisation of neoliberal subjectivities and political sensitivities. How, I ask, has the encounter between neoliberalism and Israeli occupation translated in the context of Palestinian day-to-day life, and what implications does it have upon the conditions of possibility of Palestinian political subjectivity, or the prospect of collective struggle?

These questions are explored though a variety of discourses and struggles that have developed around mobile telephony in Palestine, and especially the first Palestinian mobile operator Jawwal, during the first years of the 2000s. Mobile telephony, it has been argued, epitomises a diversity of social processes and ideas that are connected to late modernity and the globalisation of neoliberalism.' In Palestine, however, the emergence of mobile telephony and the deterritorialising qualities associated with it have intersected with an ultra-territorial, colonial occupation, resulting in a largely unexamined space of multiple and clashing temporalities, spacialities and identifications. A study of these encounters builds an image of a late modern subject of colonial occupation, of a Palestinian subject that is increasingly individualised, hybridised and hard to represent within the dominant discourses of the Palestinians' struggle.

MOBILE LATE MODERNITY

Since the beginning of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000 and following Israel's repressive measures to quell down Palestinian resistance, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories has become harder than it might have been ever before. …

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