Thesis ID: CBB548843019

Prophecies of Palestine: Geology and Intimate Knowledge of the Subterranean (2021)


This dissertation examines the narratives deployed to produce space(s) and how they become imbued with the authority to do so. The narratives-as-knowledge considered here are grounded in a specific place: the Mediterranean Basin, within which the site of analysis, Palestine, sits. How, in this particular place, has the earth been read and translated into different narratives of the past and the present, how does one gain the authority to do so, and how does this authority enable prophesizing the future? I argue for the importance of understanding the foundations of the earth sciences, namely geology, which remains steeped in colonial and capitalist roots and the ideological logics of extractivism as opposed to mutuality. Geology governs much of our understandings of the earth, space, and time. Archival research reveals that in Palestine, Biblical and geological narratives emerged concomitantly; both read the history of earth and mankind through its translation of the strata of the underground, which in turn granted the authority to prophesize the future. The local, intimate knowledge of the land, and thus the narratives of the land, are in contest in colonial contexts – colonial knowledge depends on and exploits local knowledge. The development of the modern-nation state enfolds the holders of this knowledge within its institutions as it seeks to make nature legible for extraction. In settler-states, however, the holders of intimate knowledge are excluded from the state. This, I argue, can help us understand the impasse between Gaza’s tunnel diggers and the Israeli military and offers us a case study of the potential of subterranean knowledge to rethink the Earth Sciences and their colonial capitalist paradigms. Place matters, and I focus on the dueling narratives in Gaza that reproduce it. Through a combined methodology of historical research and ethnography with the local population, I first argue Gaza should be unmapped from “the Gaza Strip,” and counter-mapped (through history and ethnography) as Southern Palestine. After redefining the geography of Gaza, I focus in on daily life on the surface of a vibrant Gaza filled with unexpected relations. The dissonance of mainstream humanitarian discourse on Gaza is shorn of historical context of colonialism and prophesizes certain death, whereas the anti-colonial narrative of local resistance promises a liberated future. I then move underground to the tunnels of Gaza, where smuggling and the logics of capital accumulation – which per local analysts had only the certainty of social deterioration – butt up against the underground resistance’s liberatory discourse and reality on the ground. I detail how the “purity” of resistance and its intimate knowledge is contained and captured in the different nation-states dividing the region of southern Palestine, namely Israel and Egypt and the quasi-state status in Palestine – but not entirely. Back above ground, social deterioration and state violence is mediated through conspiracy theories prophesizing an uncertain future for Gaza, namely the Deal of the Century that threatens to redraw the map of Gaza. Meanwhile, Egypt and Israel continue to deploy local knowledge for extractive industries. However, I argue, something fugitive remains that cannot be contained even by their powerful militaries. The dominant mainstream narratives of humanitarianism, climate catastrophe, the Deal of the Century, and so on only lead to catastrophe, whereas looking to local, intimate knowledge that is fugitive from containment or erasure offer a different reading of and relationship with the land and hence different, even liberatory possibilities for the future. Following assertions that we are a storytelling species and should re-write our origin stories and hence our prophecies, I conclude with a reflection on different subterranean poetics and land-human-animal relations to imagine what a critical geology might look like as a contribution toward new, all-inclusive theories of earth.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Chapter J.C. Aubele; L.S. Crumpler; (2018)
Twenty-first-century natural history: Planetary geology in natural history museums (/isis/citation/CBB197122498/) unapi

Chapter Renee M. Clary; Amy Moe-Hoffman; (2018)
The role of the Dunn-Seiler Museum, Mississippi State University, in promoting public geoliteracy (/isis/citation/CBB257602494/) unapi

Article Almklov, Petter G.; (2008)
Standardized Data and Singular Situations (/isis/citation/CBB000953522/) unapi

Essay Review Ricardo Lopes Coelho; (2017)
Time and Space, Concepts and Phenomena (/isis/citation/CBB004181361/) unapi

Article Brown, Paul Tolliver; (2009)
Relativity, Quantum Physics, and Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's “To the Lighthouse” (/isis/citation/CBB001320696/) unapi

Book Patrice F. Dassonville; (2017)
The Invention of Time and Space: Origins, Definitions, Nature, Properties (/isis/citation/CBB567963805/) unapi

Book Jess Bier; (2017)
Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine: How Occupied Landscapes Shape Scientific Knowledge (/isis/citation/CBB643660074/) unapi

Book Jean-Paul Gaudillière; Claire Beaudevin; Christoph Gradmann; Anne M. Lovell; Laurent Pordié; David Cantor; (2020)
Global health and the new world order: Historical and anthropological approaches to a changing regime of governance (/isis/citation/CBB020942143/) unapi

Book Dirk De Bock; Geert Vanpaemel; (2019)
Rods, Sets and Arrows: The Rise and Fall of Modern Mathematics in Belgium (/isis/citation/CBB275278149/) unapi

Article Dyck, Maarten Van; Verelst, Karin; (2013)
“Whatever Is Neither Everywhere Nor Anywhere Does Not Exist”: The Concepts of Space and Time in Newton and Leibniz (/isis/citation/CBB001320861/) unapi

Book Huggett, Nick; (2010)
Everywhere and Everywhen: Adventures in Physics and Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB001500122/) unapi

Article Varughese, Shiju Sam; (2011)
Media and Science in Disaster Contexts: Deliberations on Earthquakes in the Regional Press in Kerala, India (/isis/citation/CBB001220695/) unapi

Chapter Patricia Coorough Burke; Peter M. Sheehan; (2018)
Museums at the intersection of science and citizen: An example from a Silurian reef (/isis/citation/CBB571400487/) unapi

Article Alessio Argentieri; Michele di Filippo; (2020)
Il sinkhole di Marcellina del 2001 (Monti Lucretili, Lazio) (/isis/citation/CBB712411355/) unapi

Chapter Alan E. Leviton; Michele L. Aldrich; (2018)
Geology and paleontology at the California Academy of Sciences, 1895-2016: A brief overview (/isis/citation/CBB744201777/) unapi

Book Jeremy Davies; (2016)
The Birth of the Anthropocene (/isis/citation/CBB198861990/) unapi

Book Simon Mitton; (2021)
From Crust to Core: A Chronicle of Deep Carbon Science (/isis/citation/CBB188440680/) unapi

Book Burek, Cynthia V.; Prosser, C. D.; (2008)
The History of Geoconservation (/isis/citation/CBB000951840/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Prosser, C. D.
Burek, Cynthia V.
Almklov, Petter G.
Varughese, Shiju Sam
Lilley, F. E. M.
Brown, Paul Tolliver
Social Studies of Science
Spontaneous Generations
Historical Records of Australian Science
Journal of Modern Literature
Foundations of Science
Science and Education
Geological Society of America
Geological Society
Oxford University Press
Manchester University Press
Cambridge University Press
University of California Press
Earth sciences
Science and society
Space perception
Time perception
Einstein, Albert
Heisenberg, Werner
Woolf, Virginia
Bohr, Niels Henrik David
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Newton, Isaac
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
18th century
19th century
20th century, early
Australian National University
California Academy of Sciences

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment