Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Andy Clarno ─ The Empire’s New Walls: The Politics of Enclosure in South Africa and Palestine/Israel

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

4 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

The urban landscapes of Johannesburg and Jerusalem are increasingly defined by extreme forms of walled enclosure. South African elites surround their homes with brick walls and electric fences, put gates around their neighborhoods, and hire private security companies for protection. Meanwhile, the State of Israel is building a series of walls and fences around Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What explains the concurrent construction of these walled enclosures? And what do they teach us about inequality and insecurity in an era of neoliberal globalization? Based on 33 months of archival, ethnographic, and photographic research, this paper analyzes the relationship between political and economic restructuring, the production of marginalized populations, and the politics of security in South Africa and Palestine/Israel. In both societies, the political transitions of the 1990s – the end of formal apartheid in South Africa and the Oslo ‘peace process’ in the Middle East – were coupled with neoliberal restructuring. The combination has produced growing race and class inequality, widespread insecurity, and concentrated precariousness. In both societies, elite insecurity has generated massive investments in efforts to contain the urban poor. In South Africa, private security companies and wealthy neighborhood associations have taken the lead in developing strategies to police poor Black South Africans. And in Palestine/Israel, an imperial network of coordinated security forces polices the Palestinian precariat – not only the Israeli police and military, but also the United States, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority itself.

Development and Governance Seminar

Andy Clarno is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is currently completing a book manuscript, The Empire’s New Walls, which analyzes the impact of neoliberal restructuring and securitization on race, class, and space in post-apartheid South Africa and post-Oslo Palestine/Israel. His recent publications include “Beyond the State: Policing Precariousness in South Africa and Palestine/Israel“ in Ethnic and Racial Studies (September 2014), “Securing Oslo: The Dynamics of Security Coordination in the West Bank” in MERIP (Winter 2013), “Rescaling White Space in Post-Apartheid South Africa” in Antipode (November 2013), and “Imperial Sovereignty and Spaces of Exception” in Sociology and Empire, edited by George Steinmetz (2013).