Palestine Israel : Spatial Relationality and the Fallacies of Methodological Nationalism

Thursday December 17th 2020
From 10 am to 12 am

In order to obtain the link to attend the conference, please contact cedric.parizot [at]

Theorizing Urban Space and Binational Sociality in Jewish-Arab “Mixed Towns”

Daniel Monterescu, Associate Professor of urban anthropology at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University, IMéRA (Aix Marseille university)

This presentation develops the analytic vocabulary needed to examine how urban space, Jewish-Arab sociality and local/national identities have been both represented and produced in ethnically mixed towns since the establishment of the state of Israel to the present. A bi-national borderland in which Arabs and Jews live together, these cities bring to the fore, on the one hand, the paradox of Palestinian citizens in a fundamentally Jewish state, while simultaneously suggesting, by the very spatial and social realization of “mixed-ness,” the potential imaginary of its solution. Through ethnographic and historical research centered in Jaffa, the argument posits mixed towns as a political and theoretical challenge to the hegemonic ethno-nationalist guiding principles of the Israeli state, which fails to maintain homogeneous, segregated and ethnically-stable spaces. This failure, I argue, results in the parallel existence of heteronomous spaces in these towns, which operate through multiple and often contradictory logics of space, class and nation. Analyzed relationally, these spaces produce peculiar forms of quotidian social relations between Palestinians and Israelis, enacting circumstantial coalitions and local identities that challenge both Palestinian and Jewish nationalisms. Overcoming the limitations of methodological nationalism, which can only describe such spaces as historical anomalies, the paper outlines the contours of a dialectic theory of socio-spatial relations in contested cities.

Organization: Julien Loiseau, historian (IREMAM, CNRS/Aix Marseille University) et Cédric Parizot anthropologist (IREMAM, CNRS/Aix Marseille University)

A Crossing Industry, a video game between art and research

Ethnographic research, artistic creation and video-game technology

A Crossing Industry focuses on the operations of the Israeli separation regime in the West Bank during the three years following the second Intifada (2007-2010). Still in development, it is being produced by a transdisciplinary team composed of an anthropologist (Cédric Parizot), an artist (Douglas Edric Stanley), a philosopher (Jean Cristofol) and ten students at the École supérieure d’art d’Aix-en-Provence. In this contribution, we discuss how game video technology has allowed the team to use a documentary approach to model ethnographic analysis, using artistic conceptualization with its own aesthetic and poetic issues.

Our initial reflections on the content and the format for our game took place at the École d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence. We regularly met at Douglas’ Hypermedia Workshop (Atelier Hypermédia), where he and his students experiment with programming in their artistic practices.

In October 2013, the project finally adopted a graphic language which uses low-poly 3D objects, a single background with grey nuances (empty with no visible ground) and primary colours for representing different types of places (Israeli-controlled zones, Palestinian zones, etc.) and the specific status of individuals (Palestinians, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Israeli Jews, soldiers, border guards, etc.). By placing these objects on a map similar to the one I had drawn, we were able to develop the first layout for the navigational space.

This first draft made us realize that there were substantial gaps between Cedric’s scientific proposal and the artistic conceptualization developed by Douglas and the students. At this point, we realized that we had to rethink our respective positions. I could no longer remain in my role as transmitter of knowledge, while the artists needed to objectivize that knowledge through the coding of a visual language, text and rules of interaction. We had to give much greater thought to understanding how we could work through these difficulties.

A critical and artistic documentary

In September 2014, we explored new lines of articulation and a new scenario. Cedric Parizot attempted to appropriate the graphic language provided by Unity and the software for writing scenarios. The reflections generated by these attempts allowed him to make a critical appraisal of the hegemonic character that he had given to certain regimes of visibility, such as cartography. They also allowed him to understand the contingent and intersubjective nature involved in constructing an argument through a video game. Finally, they contributed to a rethinking of the various forms of intervention that A Crossing Industry could offer. This is in fact how the game was able to assume fully its role as critical documentary: not so much because it could document a situation in the field, but because it forced the team to reflect on their methods of accessing and constructing a reality.

Cédric Parizot, Douglas Edric Stanley – A Crossing Industry 2014 from antiAtlas Journal on Vimeo.

In the second draft we aimed to put on stage the story of a young Palestinian man who returns to his home village just after the Second Intifada (2000-2004). After several years abroad, he discovers not only that his village is now blocked in by Israeli settlements and the Wall of Separation, but also that restrictions on movement around the village have been tightened. But the Israelis are not the only people to introduce regulations on the movement of people and merchandise. As he rediscovers his bearings, he learns about a informal economy that organizes the passage of Palestinians into Israel. It involves Palestinians, Israelis and sometimes people of other nationalities.

For more elements on the process of creation of the game see: Parizot, Cedric, Stanley, Douglas Edric, “Research, Art and Video games: Ethnography of an extra-disciplinary exploration”, antiAtlas Journal, 01 | 2016, [Online], published on June 30th, 2016

Another writing and teaching format

In 2016, given the persistent gaps between the graphics and the scenario and the difficulty of moving forward, we chose to restart from scratch. Cédric Parizot then changed medium to think the framework of the scenario. From text writing, he moved to the drawing a dozen scenes. On this basis, the story and the graphical interface have been completely redesigned. This new project now involves Cédric Parizot, Douglas Edric Stanley and Robin Moretti.

The new scenario revolves around a young French anthropologist who leaves an Israeli city in the Negev desert to cross to the other side of the wall and reach a Palestinian village. He is scheduled to meet with a final interlocutor to finalize his investigation of the smuggling networks that facilitate the passage of Palestinian workers to Israel. However, he never meet this person. In the absence of this meeting, he has to improvise and seek new contacts among his relatives and relations. In doing so, he realizes that Israelis and Palestinians are much more interconnected than the Israeli political project of separation suggests.

Based on this story, the goal is to produce a playful documentary based on an artistic and critical approach of the operation of the Israeli separation regime imposed on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The challenge is also to experiment and develop new writing practices that combine research, art and video-game technology in order to:
– build and shape a knowledge coming from an ethnographic research
– create training materials for young artists and
young researchers in human sciences
– develop new tools for writing and non-linear forms of narration for researchers and independent artists.


Cedric Parizot
Douglas Edric Stanley
Robin Moretti
Jean Cristofol
Yohan Dumas
Benoit Espinola
Tristan Fraipont
Émilie Gervais
Théo Goedert
Mathieu Gonella
Martin Greffe
Bastien Hudé
Thomas Molles
Milena Walter.


Institut de recheche et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulmans (UMR7310, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS)
Ecole supérieure d’art d’Aix en Provence
Institut d’études avancées d’Aix Marseille Unuversité (IMéRA)
French Ministry of Culture

Israelis and Palestinians in the Shadows of the Wall: Spaces of Separation and Occupation

Edited by Stéphanie Latte Abdallah, French Institute of the Near East, CNRS, Palestinian Territories and Cédric Parizot, IREMAM, CNRS, Aix Marseille Université, Aix en Provence, France

Ashgate, 2015
294 pages
14 illustrations and 9 maps

Shedding light on the recent mutations of the Israeli separation policy, whose institutional and spatial configurations are increasingly complex, this book argues that this policy has actually reinforced the interconnectedness of Israelis and Palestinian lives and their spaces. Instead of focusing on the over-mediatized separation wall, this book deals with what it hides: its shadows. Based on fieldwork studies carried out by French, Italians, Israelis, Palestinian and Swiss researchers on the many sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide, it highlights a new geography of occupation, specific forms of interconnectedness and power relations between Israeli and Palestinian spaces. It offers a better understanding of the transformation of people’s interactions, their experiences and the ongoing economy of exchanges created by the separation regime. This heterogeneous regime increasingly involves the participation of Palestinian and international actors. Grounded in refined decryptions of territorial realities and of experiences of social actors’ daily lives this book goes beyond usual political, media and security representations and discourses on conflict to understand its contemporary stakes on the ground.

More information on the book 

Read the introduction of the book

ISPABEMA: Israel Palestine below maps

An alternative mapping of Israeli-Palestinian spaces

At the end of 2012, in order to renew the processing of his field data, collected in the Israeli-Palestinian spaces between 2005 and 2010, Cédric Parizot (anthropologist) joined forces with a transdisciplinary team composed of a digital artist, specialized in data visualization, Wouter Van Den Broeck, and a network sociologist, Antoine Vion (LEST, Aix Marseille University / CNRS). The objective was to develop a first database to capture and visualize the interactions that the anthropologist had observed during his surveys of smuggling networks between the West Bank and Israel.

The first tests of this visualization system were presented at the first international conference of the antiAtlas of borders (October 2013) in Aix en Provence and in June 2014 at the World Congress of the Association for Borderlands Studies of Joensuu (Finland). The graphs made it possible to expose and analyze nearly 1000 observed interactions during two months of fieldwork in 2005. Moving from the fine and rich observation provided by ethnography to a graphic abstraction allowing to visualize simultaneously several hundred interactions, helped validating a number of research hypotheses as well as to visualize arrangements that the researcher could not represent only through the reading his notebooks.

From map to a customized visualization tool

Given the interest of these first results, we decided to continue the project between the spring of 2014 and 2015. We had three objectives: (1) to create a customized tool to renew the analysis of the data recorded in the anthropologist’s notebooks; (2) to produce an alternative mapping of Israeli-Palestinian spaces and their borders; and finally, (3) to make a software that could be used by other researchers in the human sciences in the processing of network data.

Since Wouter Van Den Broeck was unable to continue, the team was recomposed around Cédric Parizot, Antoine Vion, another digital artist and programmer, Guillaume Stagnaro (School of Art in Aix en Provence) and a geomatician, Mathieu Coulon (LAMES, CNRS / Aix Marseille University).

Entitled ISPABEMA (Israel Palestine below Maps), this project lead to the building of a first software prototype in November 2014. It was displayed at the Salon de la valorisation organized by carried by the LabexMed project in Marseille; then we made an invention deposit with SATT South-East and Aix Marseille University in January 2015. Finally in June 2015, we presented more advanced prototype at the Salon Innovative SHS held at La Villette in Paris. However, due to lack of funding, we were unable to complete the project.


Cédric Parizot, anthropologist ; Mathieu Coulon, geomatician ; Guillaume Stagnaro, digital artist and developer ; Wouter Van Den Broeck, digital artist; Antoine Vion, sociologist


Institut d’Etudes et de Recherche sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman
Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Sociologie
Laboratoire d’Economie et de Sociologie du Travail
Ecole supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence
Projet LabexMed (Fondation A*MIDEX)
Aix Marseille Université
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique