The occupation of Snow – the case of the Golan Heights

Key information

3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Faber Building, 23/24 Russell Square

About this event

Speaker: Dr Moriel Ram (Postdoc Researcher, Near and Middle East Section, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics)

This presentation explores how snow becomes a political matter that forms territories under foreign occupation as coveted foreign destinations. My main case study will be the Hermon Mountain in the Golan Heights that Israel occupied from Syria in the June 1967 war and sought to shape into an "ordinary" ski resort in the style of the Swiss Alps. Utilising a historical method and geographical analysis, I will explore the normalising power of snow as well as its disruptive capabilities in Israel's occupation of the Golan and the Hermon. First, the formulation of snow as a natural resource that secures colonial conquests. Second, the ability of snow to camouflage acts of violence such as population removal and spatial destruction. Finally, the imaginative capacities of snow to envision an occupied Middle Eastern battlefront as a remote European haven. However, the disappearance and reappearance of snow constantly undermined the attempt to secure the territory; frequently uncovered the forms of violence used to secure the area and hampered the effort to reconstruct its spatial identity. In other words, the material instability of snow generated various types of slippage, excess and ambivalence. Hence, the study of Hermon provides a conceptual analysis that uncovers the darker and lighter shades of snow and better our understanding of how territorial occupations reconstruct the relationship between matter and imagination, substance and phantasy.

Bio: I am a postdoc researcher in Israel Studies at SOAS, Department of Near and Middle East, School of Languages and Cultures. My primary interest lies in exploring how matter matters in unstable environments. Past and present research include the militarisation of natural resources in contested territories in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The material interaction between human lives and medical equipment in the development of clinical aid to Africa. The infrastructure of faith and religion in Israel's urban environments and geopolitical representations of dead matter through the figure of the zombie.

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