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Power networks and fractured modernities: a political history and geography of electrification in Palestine-Israel


This research project investigates the ways in which electrification, and the ‘roll out’ of electricity infrastructures, comes to matter socially, politically, economically and spatially both symbolically and as a set of materials. An interdisciplinary analytical focus on how these ‘large technical systems’ are constructed and used in Palestine-Israel offers a powerful way of thinking about electricity as a complex assemblage of actors, agents and processes that connect to, and drive, much debated processes of colonialism, modernity, statecraft and uneven development. The focus on electricity brings an unexplored and fascinating reading of the past and present history of Palestine-Israel.

Drawing on insights from a variety of disciplinary perspectives –ranging from social studies of technology, urban studies or political economy to postcolonial studies— this project seeks to: (a) document, analyze and produce an innovative history of Palestine-Israel in which electrification and the development of electricity grids play a central role in directing, organizing and shaping space and everyday life; (b) address the actual theoretical and empirical lacunae on electrification and electricity infrastructure in both Middle East Studies and social science research focusing on infrastructure; and (c) develop a conceptualization of electricity that destabilizes and reconfigures existing boundaries between technology and society, the material and the symbolic or the human and non human and how this particular electric assemblage is territorialized in Palestine-Israel.

The approach advanced in this project provides a timely corrective to area studies –Middle East and Palestine-Israel—largely defined (understandably) by geopolitics and violence, offering instead an approach that allows for careful consideration of what might be learned from the seemingly mundane ‘things’ that still today connect (albeit selectively) spaces and populations otherwise increasingly divided.

Field of science

  • /social sciences/social and economic geography/urban studies
  • /social sciences/economics and business/economics/political economy
  • /social sciences
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/history

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MC-IOF - International Outgoing Fellowships (IOF)
Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries


Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 25
9000 Gent
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 267 551,40
Administrative Contact
Saskia Vanden Broeck (Prof.)