Living Law

Police and Sovereignty in an Occupation Regime


Eilat Maoz

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press and Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2020
Series Manarat: The Van Leer Center for Jewish-Arab Relations, Theory and Criticism in Context Series

On what is order based in a situation that violates order? What happens when the aspiration to establish sovereignty undermines the unity of the sovereign? What is the relationship between the actual practice and the fantasy regarding a stable order, or between the law and its absence?

Living Law: Police and Sovereignty in an Occupation Regime traces the history of policing beyond the Green Line and discusses the relations between the police and the Palestinians, the settlers, and the other enforcement and security authorities. The book shows how the settlement project on the West Bank is based on a blurring of the differences between public and private, crime and law, legitimate and illegitimate. This is because in the colonial frontier space the state’s authority is delegated to a multiplicity of actors whose mutual relations are characterized by imitation and appropriation, concealment and exposure, and conceptual and legal blurring.

Beyond being a chronicle of the mechanism, Living Law exposes the work of sovereignty as a continual dialectical movement between the erasure of boundaries and the drawing of them anew. This movement generates a sovereign desire for finite and absolute unity, which leads the regime and its citizens to uncharacteristic and excessive violence.

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