The Logistics of Power

The Architecture of the Gaza Blockade

PhD Research
Goldsmiths, University of London
Sep 2015 – ongoing

Role: Author, Project Lead
Supervision: Eyal Weizman, Louis Moreno
The Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Southern Israel. Photo: David Katz.

From a role of support to the deployment of a war machine, logistics has developed into a mode of power in its own right. It is perhaps in Gaza that this shift can be grasped to its fullest extent.

The sea, land, and air blockade of the Gaza Strip has now entered into its second decade. By reducing the inflow and outflow of life-sustaining resources to a bare minimum for the survival of its two million captive residents, the blockade has created an unparalleled form of subjugation. As the material conditions of life inside the Palestinian enclave are worsening at an alarming pace, Gaza is often approached as a site of exceptional backwardness. This thesis contends that, rather than a political atavism, the Gaza Strip constitutes a frontier where the defining technology of power of our globalised present is both stress-tested and calibrated.

To argue this claim, I proceed to a critical examination of the architecture of the Gaza blockade. The tracing of its contours and operational logic reveals a figure which I propose to consider as a diagram of logistical power: a mode of power based upon the channelling, regulation, and modulation of all forms of circulations. As a violently contested territory, Gaza enables to shed new light on the thorough entanglement of the military and civilian characters of contemporary logistics. Furthermore, by grounding the argument in Gaza – a site rightly associated with a process of fixation – I aim to emphasise a point that is critical to an understanding of the political dimension of contemporary logistics: namely that logistics operates as much on the acceleration of certain flows than on the hindering of others. As it is argued throughout the thesis, the spatial and political technology used to obstruct circulations in and out of Gaza shares much in common with the one tasked with lubricating the flow of goods, capital, and labour around the globe. In this perspective, the blockaded Gaza Strip appears as an inverted image of the logistical zone. Building upon an emerging body of literature on the relation between contemporary urbanism and logistics, I turn to Gaza to investigate a darker image of the urban future anticipated by the rise of logistical power. By producing a detailed cartography of its modalities in the radical context of Gaza, coupled with a study of the local tactics of resistance deployed to confront it, this thesis aims outline a set of conceptual tools that may inform the search for a new agency by design, in an ever-expanding urban condition.