Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 459–472 | Cite as

Palestinian prison ontologies

  • Avram Bornstein


During the first intifada uprising (1987–1993), thousands of Palestinians were arrested annually, and mass incarceration affected as many as 100,000 families. Relying on several recent ethnographies, and other published research including some of my own, this article describes the contests over Palestinian prison ontology as organized by (a) the jailers, (b) the prisoners, (c) the families of prisoners, and (d) a service agency in the emerging Palestinian Authority. What becomes evident is that mass incarceration involves ontological struggles over the framing of justice, agency, and gender. The conclusion asks how these ontological struggles may be part of other modern prisons.


Political prisoners Israel-Palestine Justice Gender Agency 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyJohn Jay College, CUNYNew YorkUSA

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