Frontier Ecologies: Israel's Settler Colonialism in the Jawlan-Golan

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In June 2023, thousands of non-Jewish residents of the Jawlan (in Arabic) or Golan (in Hebrew) protested for several days against the construction of a new wind farm near the picturesque village of Majdal Shams (Arabic for Tower of the Sun) on the southeastern border between Syria and Israel. This event and its fallouts were arguably the culmination of 56 years of Israeli frontier making projects in the region. Drawing on in-depth interviews as well as field observations, this article traces Israel's ecological frontier. Specifically, the article chronicles five strategies of nature related frontier making deployed by the Israeli settler state in the Jawlan-Golan in the last six decades: terra nullius, animal nullius, naturalization, militarization, and renewable energy. I refer to such settler colonial investments in various modes of natural and environmental management, when these occur in contentious political regions and near borders, as “frontier ecologies.” The power of frontier ecologies lies precisely in that they seem to exist naturally—namely, beyond the realm of humans and their wars. Ultimately, the nexus of colonialism and nature conservation highlights the ways in which violence travels in between vulnerable human and nonhuman communities. Documenting the Jawlani resistance to colonialism, and to climate colonialism in particular, this article also calls for a more collaborative practices of nature conservation that would unsettle the colonial legacies of frontier ecologies.

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Political Geography

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