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Settling Nature: The Conservation Regime in Palestine-Israel

July 12 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am

Irus Braverman will join us to discuss her latest book, Settling Nature: The Conservation Regime in Palestine-Israel (University of Minnesota Press, 2023). Drawing on more than seventy interviews with Israel’s nature officials and on observations of their work, this book explores the widespread ecological warfare practiced by the state of Israel. Recruited to the front lines as part of this warfare are the fallow deer, gazelles, wild asses, griffon vultures, pine trees and cows on the Israeli side; these are pitted against the goats, camels, olive trees, hybrid goldfinches and akkoub on the Palestinian side. Such nonhuman organisms are all the more effective because nature camouflages their tactical deployment as soldiers in a human war. At the end of the day, then, the administration of nature by the state of Israel advances both the Zionist project of Jewish settlement and the corresponding dispossession of non-Jews from this space.

Irus Braverman is Professor of Law, Adjunct Professor of Geography, and, Research Professor at the Department of Research and Sustainability at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. Her main interests lie in the interdisciplinary study of law, geography, and anthropology. Writing within this nexus, Braverman conducted ethnographic research on illegal houses, trees, checkpoints, public toilets, zoos, and corals. Born in Jerusalem, Braverman acquired a law degree and a master’s in Criminology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She served as a public state prosecutor and as an environmental lawyer, both in Palestine-Israel, and was also trained as a mediator and worked as a community organizer for environmental justice issues and as a political activist. Braverman acquired her doctoral degree in law from the University of Toronto.

For much of her academic career, Braverman has advocated a move away from anthropocentric approaches in law. She brings posthumanist sensitivities to her ethnographic examinations of conservation politics in various settings. Braverman’s recent research explores the intersection of law and the life sciences. She is involved in multiple transdisciplinary conversations and forums with conservation biologists, veterinarians, and geneticists.

Braverman received multiple fellowships and awards, including a Ryskamp fellowship from the American Council for Learned Societies and residential fellowships at the Human Rights Program at Harvard University, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, the National Humanities Center, and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study. Recently, her work on marine legal geographies received funding from the Research Council of Norway.

The lecture is organized by Erin Fitz-Henry (University of Melbourne), Julia Dehm (La Trobe) and Kathleen Birrell (La Trobe) and supported by the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne and the International and Comparative Law Cluster, La Trobe Law School.

It will be followed by a workshop “Settler Ecologies: Law, Settler Colonialism and the More-than-Human”. If you are interested in participating in the workshop please submit an expression of interest.