Rotten spaces The role of waste in constructing the imaginal of the occupation in East Jerusalem

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Sarah Barrie


East Jerusalem, waste management, public space, aesthetics of waste, 'matter out of place'


Waste is an evocative aesthetic phenomenon. It is capable of producing a myriad of subliminal messages that permeate through the public space it defiles. During its occupation of East Jerusalem, Israel’s discriminatory waste management policy assumes a particularly powerful role in transforming the experience of the public space. Indeed, it distorts and ‘dirties’ the experience of the city and consolidates the imaginal of the occupation of East Jerusalem. It does so by evoking an array of ideas that align with one’s response to, and rejection of, waste. Consequently, this paper is an interrogation of how this aesthetic experience produced by waste is achieved through interweaving two narratives that are concurrently performed in this public space: the image of Palestinians as a rejected matter within the occupied East Jerusalem, and of Israel’s defiance of international legal convention. These interwoven narratives operate to conjure a powerful image of the burgeoning potency of Israel’s sovereign power in occupied East Jerusalem.

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