The Colonizing Self

Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/Palestine

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 21 illustrations Published: December 2020

Author: Hagar Kotef

Middle East Studies, Politics > Political Theory, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Colonizers continuously transform spaces of violence into spaces of home. Israeli Jews settle in the West Bank and in depopulated Palestinian houses in Haifa or Jaffa. White missionaries build their lives in Africa. The descendants of European settlers in the Americas and Australia dwell and thrive on expropriated indigenous lands. In The Colonizing Self Hagar Kotef traces the cultural, political, and spatial apparatuses that enable people and nations to settle on the ruins of other people's homes. Kotef demonstrates how the mass and structural modes of violence that are necessary for the establishment and sustainment of the colony dwell within settler-colonial homemaking, and through it shape collective and individual identities. She thus powerfully shows how the possibility to live amid the destruction one generates is not merely the possibility to turn one's gaze away from violence but also the possibility to develop an attachment to violence itself. Kotef thereby offers a theoretical framework for understanding how settler-colonial violence becomes inseparable from one's sense of self.


“This sophisticated, beautifully written, and harrowing book upends a great many comfortable myths. Hagar Kotef theorizes the violent process through which homes, relics and ruins, organic farming, and even convivial hospitality become not just the milieu of struggle, but the very sites through which the settler colonial force of the Israeli state expands and consolidates its power.” — Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics, Queen Mary University of London

“Hagar Kotef has written a fierce, rigorous, intimate, unrelenting, account of settler colonialism. We who make our homes on stolen land live in the crevices of all-too-concrete structures of oppression. We turn our faces to the wall. Kotef faces what we too often ignore. This may be harshest in Israel where Kotef's book is set, but the import of the work goes beyond that site. Perhaps all homes are built on cruel exclusions and indefensible claims. Perhaps all homes shelter cruelties. Hagar Kotef's ability to raise these unsettling questions is admirable for its intellectual clarity and its courage.” — Anne Norton, author of On the Muslim Question


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Hagar Kotef is Associate Professor in Political Theory and Comparative Political Thought at SOAS University of London and author of Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface  ix
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction: Home  1
Theoretical Overview: Violent Attachments  29
Part I. Homes
Interlude. Home/Homelessness: A Reading in Arendt  55
1. The Consuming Self: On Locke, Aristotle, Feminist Theory, and Domestic Violences  73
Epilogue. Unsettlement  109
Part II. Relics
Interlude. A Brief Reflection on Death and Decolonization  127
2. Home (and the Ruins That Remain)  137
Epilogue. A Phenomenology of Violence: Ruins  185
Part III. Settlement
Interlude. A Moment of Popular Culture: The Home of MasterChef  203
3. On Eggs and Dispossession: Organic Agriculture and the New Settlement Movement  215
Epilogue. An Ethic of Violence: Organic Washing  251
Conclusion  261
Bibliography  267
Index  293
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1133-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1028-9