Public Transit in the Palestinian West BankMaryam S. Griffin
Examining the border-enclosure strategy Israel uses to impose Palestinian im/mobilization, Maryam Griffin considers the ways public transportation in the Palestinian West Bank is a constant site of social struggle. Her illuminating book, Vehicles of Decolonization, studies collective movement, resistance, and everyday life in the West Bank to show how Palestinians assert a kind of Indigenous self-determination over mobility that Israeli settler colonialism seeks to undermine.
Having immersed herself in a year of fieldwork, Griffin maps multiple engagements with the flexible bus, shared van, and private taxi services to demonstrate that the politics of mobility are shaped by ongoing settler colonialism and Indigenous struggle. Griffin uses critical border studies to look at the contested nature of mobility at the sites of transit, where Palestinians practice self-determination through routine participation, spectacular political organizing and demonstration, and artistic renderings.
Featuring a variety of street images, Vehicles of Decolonization shows that multiple registers of people power work in concert not only to resist settler colonial logics but to reinhabit the land through the practice and preservation of alternative relations of mobility.
“A critical aspect of colonial biopolitics is the control of body and its movement. Maryam Griffin’s highly insightful Vehicles of Decolonization is the first detailed study of not only how Israeli occupation restrains the daily movement of the Palestinians through walls, checkpoints, permits, and road systems, but especially how Palestinians resist this regime of enclosure by reclaiming mobility through mundane yet highly contested venues of public transit and collective interaction. A timely book. ”
—Asef Bayat, Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of Revolutionary Life: The Everyday of the Arab Spring
“A lively and accessible read, Griffin’s book is the first in-depth study of im/mobility in the West Bank. In a landscape pockmarked by politically created closures, constrained movements, and forbidden spaces, public transport takes on important and contested meaning. Griffin’s account demonstrates how despite the intricacies of Israeli settler colonialism, Palestinians carve out spaces that provide possibilities for social connections and decolonial power, sometimes through mundane practices such as seatbelt clicks, hand-drawn maps, and a metro network art installation, which, given the political conditions, are rendered spectacular. ”
—Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, and coeditor of Gaza as Metaphor
"Griffin highlights public transportation as a site of collective Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation in the West Bank. She begins by illuminating the Israeli systems of border crossings, surveillance, and permits that seek to impede Palestinians’ movement in the region. The book then investigates the ways Palestinians use routes, human interactions surrounding transportation, and vehicles themselves to subvert these systems. Griffin also presents the history of political protests on West Bank buses and anti-occupation art that depicts public transit as examples of Palestinian social struggle centered around mobility."
—Middle East Journal
"(A) rich piece of political geography that celebrates the agency of people whose every movement can be controlled. With no apologies for her activist and sympathetic posture, Griffin describes the quotidian travails of daily life in the West Bank, where a modern highway system and buses for Jewish settlers are largely off limits for Palestinians.... (T)his well-researched monograph presents a positive picture of resilience, imagination, and community often missing in accounts of the West Bank.... Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"Griffin's writing contextualises the ramifications of public transportation for Palestinians from within Israel's colonial framework, thus setting the scene for readers to engage with a political reality that is either denied or obfuscated."
—Middle East Monitor
Edited by Antonio T. Tiongson Jr., Danika Medak-Saltzman, Iyko Day, and Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality showcases comparative studies of race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity in projects that take a self-reflexive approach in their deployment of relational frameworks and analytics. The series spotlights projects that theorize the imbrication of settler colonial logics with other structuring logics such as franchise colonialism, racial chattel slavery, neoliberal capitalism, ableism, Islamophobia, heteropatriarchy, and the carceral and surveillance state. The series does so in order to complicate the canon of comparative race scholarship and nuance normative iterations of women of color feminism and queer of color critique. For these reasons, the series seeks projects that are grounded in, and build on, the theoretical insights and methodologies of women of color feminism and queer of color critique as they engage with Native theorizing, Indigeneity, and settler colonial paradigms. Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality steers away from the familiar means of evoking and excavating patterns of similarities and differences to publish works that provide an alternative interpretive grid for comparative work—one that is acutely attuned to historical conjunctures, structural disjunctures, and power asymmetries.
Proposals may be submitted to Shaun Vigil, Editor, Temple University Press