Mobility as access to spatially defined rights: Naama Blatman-Thomas, ‘Commuting for rights: Circular mobilities and regional identities of Palestinians in a Jewish-Israeli town, Geoforum, 78, 2017, pp. 22–32
Abstract: Mobilities in settler states have become a defining feature of indigenous spatiality. This is mainly due to the structural disadvantage of indigenous communities in relation to urban locations. In Israel, Palestinian citizens are relocating to Jewish cities because of systemic discrimination, primarily in the allocation of land and housing construction permits in Arab locales. Yet, as this paper shows, their movement is neither unidirectional nor an one-time event, but ongoing and circular. Able to enjoy only certain economic and social rights in indigenous spaces and other rights in settler spaces, Palestinian citizens continuously commute between the two. Utilizing a human rights based approach, the paper unpacks Palestinian mobility practices to illuminate a lacuna in the literature, which has overlooked the quest for rights as a driving force of indigenous mobilities. The paper further demonstrates that circular mobilities become a generative act that connects the settler city to neighboring localities in a way that undermines the separation between ‘Jewish’ and ‘Palestinian’ spaces, and collapses the distinction between the ‘urban’ and ‘regional.’ Rather than attempting to integrate within the city, Palestinians incorporate the city within their own ethno-regional topography, thereby asserting their presence and a claim to the city-space itself.
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