Nation-building or ethnic fragmentation? Frontier settlement and collective identities in Israel

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4 Scopus citations


The paper analyses the evolution of collective identities from a critical geographical perspective, and argues that certain territorial practices associated with nation-building and state-building projects may actually sow the seeds of social and ethnic fragmentation. The analysis focuses on the impact of 'internal frontier' settlement in settler societies and highlights the key role of space, place and social control policies in the formation of ethnic and social identities. These identities are shown to be shaped, reshaped and reproduced during the processes of settlement, migration, segregation and inter-group territorial conflict. Within that theoretical framework, the paper explores the case of Israel, and the impact of the settlement and spatial planning in the Galilee region on the formation of regional collective identities. The analysis shows that the process of settling the frontiers has given rise to ethnic, social and institutional fragmentation, particularly between Palestinian-Arabs, Mizrahi Jews and Ashkenazi Jews. These divisions may - paradoxically - undermine the very nation-building and state-building projects that had instigated the settlement of the internal frontier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-169
Number of pages21
JournalSpace and Polity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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