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Phantom Sovereign: The Bureaucracy of the Occupation in the West Bank 2002-2006


Institute For Middle East Studies

This talk will offer a rare institutional perspective on the Israeli permit regime in the West Bank. Yael Berda (Princeton University, PhD Student) will discuss the practices of the bureaucratic apparatus that controls the movement of Palestinian workers between Israel and the West Bank, situating her analysis within colonial histories of population management. Based on two years of research and data collected while Berda represented cases in Israel’s Supreme and Military courts, this institutional ethnography will provide a rich empirical account of the Israeli permit system based on Berda’s interviews, official correspondence, legal decisions and participant observation.


  • Yael Berda is an Israeli Lawyer and a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Princeton University. Born in New York City and raised in West Jerusalem, Berda has been highly engaged in social justice activism and politics in Israel. Her first book, The Bureaucracy of the Occupation in the West Bank: The Permit Regime 2000-2006 was published in July 2012 by the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem and Hakibutz Hameuhad Publishing (Hebrew).