The Radiance of the Jewish National Home: Technocapitalism, Electrification, and the Making of Modern Palestine

Academic Article


  • AbstractContrary to conventional wisdom, the history of the Palestine mandate and its power relations were not determined solely by a series of legal measures, beginning with the 1917 Balfour Declaration and ending with the UNGA partition resolution of 1947. Rather, the emergence of modern Palestine was a process significantly guided by global technocapitalism. Palestine was constituted on the basis of a successful Zionist pitch for the area as an economically viable territory—as an area of production and consumption and crucially also as an entity locatable in the global circulation of capital and commodities. A central vehicle for this technocapitalist vision in Palestine—proposed by the Zionists, and enthusiastically adopted by the British—was a hydroelectrical megasystem in the Jordan Valley. Significant portions of the mandate's borders were mapped onto the station's technical blueprint, and conceiving of and building the powerhouse created not just borders, but also “Palestine,” a bounded entity with a distinct political and economic character. While the electrification, like Zionism in general, was justified in a language of egalitarian universalism, the power system and the “free-market” capitalist system it helped create in Palestine generated familiar kinds of political and economic inequality. Specifically, it conjured a political-economic order based on a Jewish national scale in which the Arabs were expected to supply the menial labor power in return for the economic development that was to lift all boats.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • October 2015
  • Has Subject Area

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 975
  • End Page

  • 1006
  • Volume

  • 57
  • Issue

  • 4