Settler-colonial dispossession in West Jerusalem: between the personal and the collective

Yara Sa’di-Ibraheem*, Tovi Fenster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes a spontaneous encounter between a Palestinian refugee—stepping over the threshold of her childhood home for the first time in seventy years, following its expropriation—and the current Israeli Jewish owner. This unusual encounter led us to propose a new understanding of dispossession based on both its personal (symbolic–emotional) and collective (economic–political) meanings. The former dimension is expressed in the Palestinians’ acts of remembering and visiting their pre-1948 homes, not only as a reflection of the past and a nostalgic impulse, but also as a way of shaping, intervening in, and influencing the present. The latter, collective meaning, explores the multiplicity of dispossession processes in a settler-colonial society in which the capitalist mode of production already existed before the settlers arrived. This article focuses on one particular form of dispossession through a micro-geographical study of one house in Jerusalem that was once a Palestinian family home. We also offer an expanded interpretation of dispossession as personal and collective by analyzing three modes of experience relating to dispossessed property: settler-colonial property, stolen property, and property as nativeness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-173
Number of pages15
JournalSettler Colonial Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


FundersFunder number
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Israel Science Foundation855/14, EXC 2055, 390715649


    • Jerusalem
    • Settler-colonialism
    • colonized–colonizer encounter
    • dispossession
    • palestine–Israel
    • property


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