On settler perception: Hannah Mayne, ‘Zooming-In on Terms and Spaces: Women’s Perspectives and Cognitive Mapping in a West Bank Settlement’, in The Changing World Religion Map, 2015, pp 3227-3247


Abstract: This chapter focuses on women in a West Bank settlement in the Occupied Territories, examining their imagination and perception of the contested area in which they live. Unlike previous studies that concentrate on extremist Jewish groups, their male members, and their fringe and illegal activities in this region, this research considers the subtler and more nuanced opinions and perspectives expressed by women in an established settlement town. Through ethnographic fieldwork in the community at large and cognitive mapping with three specific mothers, it is shown that women build busy social and religious lives, un-effected by, and often particularly unaware of, the dramatic political tensions a few dozen meters off, beyond the barbed wire fence that surrounds their settlement. Focusing on the immediacy of the settlement, the women stress the normal and pleasant aspects that attract them to this location, including cheaper housing prices, intimate community life, and good schools. Furthermore, women speak about the importance of the Biblical land more than the modern state, and Palestinian citizens become a theoretical blip on a predominantly religious and historical landscape. The surrounding Palestinian populations are referred to in vague, abstract terms that do not acknowledge their adverse living conditions and their lives under military occupation. Ultimately, what is shown through this research is the complex combination of political economy, religion, and history in defining the manner in which these women conceive and experience the landscape.

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