The Vein, the Fingerprint Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector- Performance and discussion

Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom

28 January 2019

Keynote Speaker: Dr Catherine Charrett (Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London)

Discussant: TBA

Chair: Dr Sarah Wolff (Director of the Centre for European Research, Queen Mary University of London)

2018/2019 Debating Europe Seminar Series- SPECIAL EVENT

What does it mean to call a weapon sophisticated, advanced and precise? This performance takes on the spectacle of technology and its role in the Israeli colonisation of Palestine. Helga Tawil-Souri describes technology as a "mechanism by which we learn to internalise values, beliefs and norms of culture and as a material device in which are encoded the dominant beliefs and norms of society." Technologies can act as reflections of the societies that develop and use them. They hold myths about national identities and encoded messages about hierarchies. But what if these technologies could talk? What if they could unveil their myths to you, share their secrets, and explain their encoded messages? What if they could reveal the distortion of intelligence embedded within them, the destruction of trust and community they promote and the melancholy and sadness behind their design? Would we still call them sophisticated?

By tracing the technologies that shape Europe's involvement with the occupation of Palestine this performance tells a story of the global colonial structures that maintain the oppression of the Palestinian. This project is based on the performer's ethnographic observations of the technologies of Occupation, as well as interviews with Israeli start-up firms who imagine the future through their technologies and interviews with Palestinian police who try to manoeuvre around the limitations imposed by these technologies. It presents weapons fairs in Europe and in Israel where new technologies are put on display and passed around. It discusses the restrictions Israel imposes on the equipment and movement of European police working in the West Bank. Technologies act as windows into the inconsistencies, but also trends that compose this international order of occupation.

Timothy Mitchell's writings on the colonial exhibition reveal the coloniser's attraction to its own spectacle of security. 'Life as exhibition,' he explains favours structure over reality, appearance over essence. This performance interrogates how Israel's technologies of occupation reflect a plan that misses an essence of life and movement. From the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, to the segregation wall, to the provision of 3g in the West Bank, to the permit system imposed on Palestinian police, this performance tackles what it may mean to be the reality that circumnavigates a colonial spectacle of order. This 60-minute performance uses the techniques of drag, melancholia and satire to directly challenge the structures that idealise technologies of war and segregation. By speaking from the position of the object and embodying its design, its circulation and its intervention into life this performance aims to dislocate the appearance of order that permits the waging and witnessing of the continued violence against the Palestinian.

Dr. Catherine Charrett is an Early Career Research Fellow for the Independent Social Research Foundation and is currently based at Queen Mary University of London in the School of Politics and International Relations. Dr. Charrett's work interrogates the ritualised practices and language of security and diplomacy in the Occupation of Palestine. Dr. Charrett uses interdisciplinary methods to disseminate her research, and is the producer of a political performance on EU-Hamas relations entitled, "Politics in Drag: Sipping Toffee with Hamas in Brussels." Dr. Charrett has also published this research in the European Journal of International Relations and has a forthcoming book with Routledge entitled, Performing Politics: Hamas, the EU and the 2006 Palestinian elections.

Dr Sarah Wolff is Director of the Centre for European Research and Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London. She is also a Senior Research Associate at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael). Dr Wolff is an expert on EU politics, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), migration and border management policies, as well as EU-Arab Mediterranean relations and EU development aid. She is author of the monograph The Mediterranean Dimension of the European Union's Internal Security (2012) and received the LISBOAN Research Award 2012 for her co-edited book Freedom, Security and Justice after Lisbon and Stockholm (2012). Her current research focuses on Secular Power Europe and EU engagement with Islam for which she was awarded a Fulbright-Schuman and a Leverhulme research grant in 2014/2015. Prior to joining the academia, Dr Wolff worked at DG Devco at the European Commission and as a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament.

The discussion will be followed by a Q&A involving the audience.

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