The rubbish of settler colonialism: Galia Limor-Sagiv, Nurit Lissovsky, ‘Place and displacement: Historical geographies of Israel’s largest landfill’, Journal of Historical Geography, 2023


Abstract: This article explores the role of space in facilitating forms of political power, as shown in the destruction of landscape in the center of Israel by the Hiriya landfill. That failed infrastructure wrecked the delicate legacies of mankind and nature, thus sealing the area’s fate as a city’s repellent dumping ground that attracted all kinds of liminal activities. After the 1948 war, which resulted in the establishment of the state of Israel, the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages and the erasure of their people’s legacy, Tel Aviv begun dumping its household waste near an Arab village, the residents of which had been expelled during the conflict. The authorities promised the local inhabitants — Jewish newcomers and refugees in the nearby transit camp, as well as local city dwellers — a new and modern compost plant, but the plant’s opening was repeatedly postponed. This article reveals the rapid changes that occurred in the early 1950s in the Hiriya area, and how insistence on a modern, technologically based solution to waste treatment, suffused with Zionist ideology, resulted in the creation of an infamous site that became a symbol for environmental, infrastructural, social and health hazards. Drawing from diverse unexplored textual and visual archival sources, including aerial photographs, historical maps, printed texts and interviews, we argue that this combined method of landscape reading is crucial for understanding such a tragedy of landscape. Our study of the Hiriya landfill points to the challenges posed by infrastructure, and contributes to future research into post-industrial sites, including landfills, quarries, airfields, mines and factories.

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