The Production of the Landscape of Exception in High Conflict Zone

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A wide range of literature shows the persistence of high conflicts and power inequalities in the urban dimension. Consequently, there is a wide exploration of discrimination and subjugation of minority groups in urban areas; on the other hand, there are many progressive and radical urban movements (and scholars) around the world working (and researching) for better and more equal living conditions in the cities. The paper shifts this focus to landscape, analyzing landscape transformation in the West Bank as a result of power inequalities, discrimination, conflicts and colonization. The ongoing transformation of landscape in high conflict zones stretches the meaning of landscape from a natural scene people interact with, to an active force, exercising power over people. Clearly, political power has the ability of converting the landscape from a harmonious scene to a scene that is full of conflicts. According to that, the landscape loses its vitality, continuity, and original image. It can be called as a "landscape of exception", according to Agamben studies on the concept of the “state of exception”: when a political regime (state) faces a political crisis, it circumvents the constitutional principles and an "exceptional state" that is characterized by a void of law is produced (Agamben, 2005). The concept of exception is very obvious in high conflict zones where the space becomes a "void of law", and the reality of space deviates from a famous explanation of space developed by Henri Lefebvre (1991) where he points out that the space is a "social space" that is a "social product". The landscape of high conflict zones is marked by spatial differences between the 'space of the powerful' and the 'space of the powerless' influenced by power relations. The organization of space and spatial differences in high conflict zones cannot simply be understood as an emptiness of law. On the contrary, the whole landscape acquires new meanings: domination, control, and surveillance produced by an ordered process of planning that is mostly in the hand of the hegemonic power. In its fragmented landscape, the West Bank seems as a "hollow land" in which Israel controls the air above and the underground of a fragmented land (Weizman, 2007).This paper argues that the concept of the landscape of exception is a most appropriate framework for understanding the landscape transformation in high conflict zones, where planning is used as a control tool rather than a reform tool. The paper explores how colonial power in high conflict zones transforms the landscape into a landscape of exception that includes more than a "void of law". This exploration is very essential to understand the landscape's role in contested regions where it becomes a controversial issue. The paper also aims to highlight the ability of planning to deviate the landscape from its original meaning of enjoyment or production to a meaning of control.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine0
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2013


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