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“We are the only people in this world who are living under such total occupation. Israel sees us as being equal to our animals, and sometimes they even value us less than our animals.” This quote, from the founder of the Gaza Zoo, demonstrates both the significance and the complexities of human-animal relations in Gaza, especially at times of siege and war. My article draws on ethnographic encounters and investigative analysis to relay how Gaza’s spatial confinement generally, and the Israeli incursion into Gaza of summer 2014 in particular, has lent itself to a radicalized discursive interplay between the animalization of humans and the humanizing of animals who dwell in this place. I tell how human animals — Israelis and Palestinians, children and terrorists — as well as nonhuman animals — snakes, zoo animals, dogs, mice, lions, insects, zebras, donkeys, chicken, and beasts — perform detailed daily rituals of humanization, dehumanization, and animalization, making life and death more or less worthy through redefining the degrees of their relative humanity and animality. I coin the term “zoometrics” to refer to such detailed calculations of biopolitical worthiness that occur within and along the animal-human divide. Such zoometric accounts highlight the slippages between bestialized and humanized bodies, exacerbated by these bodies’ shared conditions of extreme captivity in Gaza.

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Public Culture

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This is a pre-publication version of Irus Braverman, Captive: Zoometric Operations in Gaza, 29 Public Culture 191 (2017). The final published version is available at 10.1215/08992363-3644457.