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Israel as homotopia: Language, space, and vicious belonging

  • Tommaso M. Milani (a1) (a2) and Erez Levon (a3)


Israel has recently succeeded in presenting itself as an attractive haven for LGBT constituencies. In this article, we investigate how this affective traction operates in practice, along with the ambiguous entanglement of normativity and antinormativity as expressed in the agency of some gay Palestinian Israelis vis-à-vis the Israeli homonationalist project. For this purpose, we analyze the documentary Oriented (2015), produced by the British director Jake Witzenfeld together with the Palestinian collective Qambuta Productions. More specifically, the aim of the article is twofold. From a theoretical perspective, we seek to demonstrate how Foucault's notion of heterotopia provides a useful framework for understanding the spatial component of Palestinian Israeli experience, and the push and pull of conflicted identity projects more generally. Empirically, we illustrate how Israel is a homotopia, an inherently ambivalent place that is simultaneously utopian and dystopian, and that generates what we call vicious belonging. (Code-switching, heterotopia, homonationalism, normativity, pinkwashing, sexuality, space)*

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Tommaso Milani, Göteborgs universitet, Renströmsgatan 6, 412 55 Göteborg,


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We express our gratitude to Muzna Awayed-Bishara for helping us with the transcription and translation of the excerpts, and to Scott Burnett, Joe Comer, and the audiences at Lavender Languages and Linguistics 24 in Nottingham (2016) and AILA 2017 in Rio de Janeiro for constructive comments on previous versions of this article. We also want to thank Jenny Cheshire and two anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions for revision. All remaining errors are our own.



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