Dr. Somdeep Sen, a longtime Weave News contributor and currently a postdoc in the Department of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde University, was recently interviewed by the Danish NGO Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (MS Danish Association for International Co-operation) for their Udposten podcast series. Sen spoke about his field research into the spatial dynamics of Israeli settlement colonies and how they shape the perceptions of the people who live there.
Focusing specifically on the Efrat settlement colony, located near Jerusalem, Sen observed how the built environment makes it possible for the settlers - living in communities that are illegal under international law - to live what feels like a "normal" life while at the same time "normalizing" the dispossession and invisibility of Palestinians who live in surrounding communities:
In a sense, Efrat was a significant experience for me with regards to the extent to which you could only see other settlements and the extent to which you cannot see Palestinians. And I say that also because I have actually been in the Palestinian villages and the Palestinian towns in the vicinity. So I've been to Wadi an Nis, [and] Wadi an Nis's view is completely dominated by the settlement, yet from the settlement, you don't actually see Wadi an Nis.
One of the main purposes of Israeli spatial planning, he concludes, is to "materialize Palestinian non-existence."
Listen to the full interview below (introduction is in Danish but interview is in English).
For more on Sen's research, see 2016's "Interweaving: Somdeep Sen on Race, Fieldwork, and Colonization in Israel/Palestine."