Electrical Palestine: Capital and Technology from Empire to Nation

Electrical Palestine: Capital and Technology from Empire to Nation

Fredrik Meiton

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Electricity is an integral part of everyday life—so integral that we rarely think of it as political. In Electrical Palestine, Fredrik Meiton illustrates how political power, just like electrical power, moves through physical materials whose properties govern its flow. At the dawn of the Arab-Israeli conflict, both kinds of power were circulated through the electric grid that was built by the Zionist engineer Pinhas Rutenberg in the period of British rule from 1917 to 1948. Drawing on new sources in Arabic, Hebrew, and several European languages, Electrical Palestine charts a story of rapid and uneven development that was greatly influenced by the electric grid and set the stage for the conflict between Arabs and Jews. Electrification, Meiton shows, was a critical element of Zionist state building. The outcome in 1948, therefore, of Jewish statehood and Palestinian statelessness was the result of a logic that was profoundly conditioned by the power system, a logic that has continued to shape the area until today.
"In this stimulating and provocative book, Fredrik Meiton provides a new explanation for the success of Zionism and the failure of Arab resistance in Mandate Palestine. His demonstrations of the symbiosis between colonial politics and technology sharpens our understanding of not only Israel and Palestine but also postcolonial states throughout the globe."— Derek J. Penslar, Harvard University

"Meiton shows that Zionism was far more than a political or national project, and that what he terms its 'technocapitalist underpinnings' were crucial to its conquest of the country and dispossession of the Palestinians. This is a shrewd, erudite study that enriches our understanding of a crucial element in the struggle over Palestine."  — Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University, and author of The Hundred Years' War on Palestine

"This is a critical book for anyone interested in Palestine or Israel today, as well as for those interested in the global politics of technology and capitalism" — Marwa Elshakry, author of Reading Darwin in Arabic

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