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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Noam Leshem

Leshem, N. Spaces of Abandonment: Genealogies, Lives and Critical Horizons. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2017;35:620-636.

Author(s) from Durham


Abandonment has a long presence in Western cultural, philosophical and legal canon, though most contemporary critical debates focus on its sovereign and juridico-political functions. This article considers the concept of abandonment through its more nuanced and multidimensional appearances: at once a political technology and a material economy, a juridical category and a sphere of intimacy. Following the longer conceptual history of abandonment, from its Greco-Roman sources to the present, the article sheds light on abandonment as a systemic political technology, its evolution and significance in different social and political contexts. Drawing on notions of abandonment that remain outside Western intellectual corpus—primarily in early Jewish jurisprudence—this article seeks a more nuanced and expansive understanding of this concept. Closely reading a case documenting the fatal abandonment of one Palestinian man in 2008, the article highlights a myriad of agents, materialities, relations and infrastructures that join in the production and perpetuation of the abandoned present.