The mobile architecture of settler colonialism: Irit Katz, ‘Mobile Colonial Architecture: Facilitating Settler Colonialism’s Expansions, Expulsions, Resistance, and Decolonisation’, Mobilities, 2022


Abstract: Grounded in space yet facilitated by mobility, settler colonialism has adopted distinct architectural devices. Tents, prefabricated shelters, mobile homes, shipping containers, and other portable structures, have created the scaffoldings of new colonial settlements, allowing for rapid territorial expansion. These mobile spatial objects have also served as instruments of expulsion and expropriation, facilitating the creation of spaces of counterinsurgency and displacement for the containment of rebellious and expelled locals, who themselves used mobile architecture as an instrument of resistance. From the historical British ‘Portable Colonial Cottage for Emigrants’ to the caravans used by Israeli settlers in the occupied territories and the creation of humanitarian spaces, these mobile structures have been part of the toolkit enabling colonial powers to rapidly rearrange people in space. This article draws on critical mobility and architectural studies to examine settler colonialism’s mobile architecture in both historical and contemporary contexts through the case of Israel-Palestine, from Mandatory Palestine’s British and Zionist camps, through early statehood’s spaces of displacement and emplacement, to current colonial environments. By doing so, the article highlights how settler colonialism’s rapid spatial actions and counteractions require mobile spatial forms and their related infrastructure for the abrupt and often racialised territorial and demographic alterations and for related swift counteracts of resistance, protest and decolonisation.

%d bloggers like this: