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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Noam Leshem

Leshem, N. Repopulating the emptiness: a spatial critique of ruination in Israel/Palestine. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 2013;31:522-537.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper critically examines the notions of spatial emptiness and ruination through their unsettled appearance in the archive of colonization. Focusing on the history of Zionist colonization of Palestine/Eretz Israel, it illustrates how the encounter with the land fractures the ideological construct of emptiness and foregrounds the ambiguities found at the heart of the self-assured discourse of Zionism. Though there is an established corpus of scholarship that deconstructs the colonial fallacy of ‘the empty land’, the actuality and materiality of emptying processes and acts of ruination remain on the margins of this critical effort. Through a rereading of key Zionist texts from different historical moments, the analysis sheds light on the contradictions and ambiguities that lie at the heart of the Zionist territorial project and the inherent weaknesses of the hegemonic production of space.