Repopulating the emptiness: a spatial critique of ruination in Israel/Palestine

Noam Leshem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article critically examines the notions of spatial emptiness and ruination through their unsettled appearance in the archive of colonization. Focusing on the history of Zionist colonization of Palestine/Eretz Israel, it illustrates how the encounter with the land fractures the ideological construct of emptiness and foregrounds the ambiguities found at the heart of the self-assured discourse of Zionism. Though there is an established corpus of scholarship that deconstructs the colonial fallacy of ‘the empty land’, the actuality and materiality of emptying processes and acts of ruination remains on the margins of this critical effort. Through a re-reading of key Zionist texts from different historical moments, the analysis sheds light on the contradictions and ambiguities that lie at the heart of the Zionist territorial project and the inherent weaknesses of the hegemonic production of space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-537
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • nationalism
  • historical geography
  • Israel
  • archival research

Cite this