Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

Anthropology, MA

Committee Chair

Peteet, Julie

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Storey, Angela D.

Committee Member

Storey, Angela D.

Committee Member

Bowman, Brad

Author's Keywords

Middle East; Palestine; Israel; capitalism; discipline; settler colonialism


Walid Daka, a Palestinian political prisoner in Israel since 1986, contends that Israel’s “final solution” to quell Palestinian resistance is currently unfolding in Israeli prisons where, as he describes, Palestinian prisoners are being divided from one another through seemingly unrelated actions and policies. Daka argues that current Israeli practices have replaced traditional physical brutality with seemingly harmless administrative decisions and actions taken by prison authorities that are aimed at instilling mistrust among Palestinians, substituting collective struggle and solidarity with individualized interests, and altering Palestinians’ awareness of national struggle. As Daka puts it, it is a set of endeavors to remold Palestinian political and social consciousness. This strategy of pitting people against people, breaking social cohesion, and producing self-involved individuals in order to dominate, exploit, and create a quiescent population can be referred to as a policy of atomization . While this is not a new idea confined toIsrael’s occupation of Palestine, atomization instead exists throughout the history of western colonialism and industrial capitalism and can be traced through the discourse of various social theorists such as Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx and their successors. What is new, however, is the material ways in which states, being the physical force and manifestation of capitalists, and non-state actors (NGOs), can inflict atomization upon groups they seek to dominate or coerce into participating in capitalist exploitation that is the result of the technological advancements and the ever-expanding and consuming nature of capitalism itself.This thesis defines atomization in the contemporary context of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and traces the contributions of western social theorists in order to explore atomization as a product of a dialectical history that is essential to the domination and disciplining of the working classes under capitalism and Palestinians under Israeli settler-colonialism and occupation.

Included in

Anthropology Commons