Title change: How Security Laws Make Citizenship: The Institutional Legacies of the British Empire in Anti-Terror Laws in Israel and India


Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


CMES, Rm 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The CES Colonial Encounters & Divergent Trajectories in the Mediterranean Study Group

Yael BerdaYael Berda
Academy Scholar, Harvard Academy for International & Regional Studies, WCFIA, Harvard University; Asst Professor, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Hebrew University

[Previous title: Imperial legacies of suspicion: Making 'loyal' administrators and citizens in Israel/Palestine and India – the first decade]

Abstract: The proliferation of anti-terrorism and counter insurgency laws are often embedded within the contemporary discourse of “the global war on Terror” and practices of homeland security. Security laws are rarely viewed as the sites in which state bureaucracies participated in the construction of citizenship and loyalty to the state. Yet, as these laws define security threats, they also define the limits of legitimate political opposition. Last year, Israel introduced an anti-terrorism law, a process that offers an opportunity to challenge the contemporary discourse by offering an alternative legal history about the colonial origins of these security laws and their relation to citizenship. In this paper, Dr. Berda discloses an alternative analysis of the ways the anti-terrorism bill encapsulates the use of emergency laws in the British Empire. She argues that this legal toolkit enshrines a triple bind between security, loyalty and identity, which the state fashions through bureaucratic means. Through a comparative study security laws in Israel and India, she shows how the British colonial roots of security practices, focused on population management and its classification as loyal to the state, or suspicious, formed the boundaries of citizenship after independence. She argues that the institutionalization of British colonial emergency laws, which occurred differently in Israel and India, deeply impacted the scope and authority of executive power to justify consistent violation to civil rights.   

Dr. Yael Berda is currently an Assistant Professor of Sociology & Anthropology, Hebrew University, and an Academy Scholar, the Harvard Academy for International & Regional Studies, WCFIA. She received her PhD from Princeton University; MA from Tel Aviv University and  LLB from Hebrew University faculty of Law. Berda was a practicing Human Rights lawyer, representing in military, district and Supreme courts in Israel. Her second book Living Emergency: Israel's permit regime in the West Bank is forthcoming in November 2017 (Stanford University Press): http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=25698. At Harvard, Berda is working on a book manuscript entitled: "The File and the Checkpoint: the Administrative memory of the British Empire in Israel, India & Cyprus". Her other research projects are about the construction of loyalty of civil servants in Israel and India, the use of emergency laws to shape political economy of colonial states, and colonial legacies of law and administration that shape contemporary homeland security practices in postcolonial states. Berda publishes, teaches and speaks on the intersections of sociology of law, bureaucracy and the state, race and racism and sociology of empires here: https://scholars.huji.ac.il/yaelberda/home.

Sponsors: Center for European Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Contact: Liz Flanagan