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Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine

$110.00 (F)

  • Date Published: August 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781316519998

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About the Authors
  • In this book, Hedi Viterbo radically challenges our picture of law, human rights, and childhood, both in and beyond the Israel/Palestine context. He reveals how Israel, rather than disregarding international law and children's rights, has used them to hone and legitimize its violence against Palestinians. He exposes the human rights community's complicity in this situation, due to its problematic assumptions about childhood, its uncritical embrace of international law, and its recurring emulation of Israel's security discourse. He examines how, and to what effect, both the state and its critics manufacture, shape, and weaponize the categories 'child' and 'adult.' Bridging disciplinary divides, Viterbo analyzes hundreds of previously unexamined sources, many of which are not publicly available. Bold, sophisticated, and informative, Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine provides unique insights into the ever-tightening relationship between law, children's rights, and state violence, at both the local and global levels.

    • Calls into question prevailing assumptions about law, human rights, and childhood, while bringing into dialogue previously separate bodies of scholarship, including childhood studies, critical legal studies, critical human rights scholarship, and literature on Israel/Palestine
    • Brings to light previously unknown parallels, connections, and tensions between local and global issues, as well as between the past and present
    • Analyzes a wide array of legal and human rights materials, almost none of which have previously been studied, and many of which are not in the public domain
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘Outstandingly original in its conceptual and methodological claims, this book exposes how international and national law collude with norms, myths, and narratives of globalized childhood to pathologize protest and promote the regulation, disciplining, and incarceration of Palestinians. Hedi Viterbo provides a key lesson for theorists and practitioners on how and why claims to and about childhood do particular legal and institutional work in the perpetuation of disempowerment.' Erica Burman, Professor of Education, University of Manchester

    ‘Hedi Viterbo presents a startlingly novel and deeply researched challenge to taken-for-granted distinctions between ‘children' and ‘adults.' By laying bare how each category can have deleterious consequences for Palestinians on both sides of this fetishized age divide or even be weaponized to further Israeli state violence, this book demands and directs a rethinking of juridical and human rights conceptions of child law as a protective shield for the young.' Lisa Hajjar, Professor of Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara

    ‘In this groundbreaking book, Hedi Viterbo offers a powerful account of the legal construction of childhood in Israel/Palestine. Drawing on a rich array of previously unexamined sources, and subjecting them to an imaginative interdisciplinary analysis, he sheds new and piercing light on the broader political significance of childhood policy and practice, calling into question many of the dominant assumptions underpinning academic debates both in and beyond Israel/Palestine.' Nicola Lacey, School Professor of Law, Gender, and Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science

    'In this monumental study, ... Viterbo uses Palestine ... as a place to make theory from, in order to understand how colonial and imperial methods of control, such as the construction of childhood, and with it the depoliticization of Palestinian resistance, are embedded into the racialized practices of liberal counterinsurgency. Viterbo’s unique method ... is a rigorous reading of archives of the state (many revealed for the first time) against and through reports of human rights organizations and international bodies. ... Viterbo [lays bare] how the category of childhood is constructed through the mutual interests of the Israeli legal system and human rights organizations. This is a major contribution of the book, not only for the case of Palestine, but for understanding the mechanisms that create the co-dependence and mutuality between human rights organizations and states.' Yael Berda, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    'Hedi Viterbo’s book ... is interdisciplinary in the deepest sense of the word. ... Viterbo’s critique is anchored in rich and varied empirical research based on hundreds of previously unstudied documents. ... The book’s central contribution, apart from problematizing ... children’s rights, is ... its critique of the human rights discourse and international human rights law, which the Israeli authorities employ to depict certain practices as humanitarian when in fact they reinforce violence. ... This contribution extends beyond the Israeli/Palestinian context and is relevant to other Global South contexts.' Rawia Aburabia, Assistant Professor of Law, Sapir College

    'Hedi Viterbo’s Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine is both a fascinating book and an outstanding scholarly accomplishment. In it, Viterbo deconstructs childhood, the law, court rulings, and the work of human rights organizations in order to expose how childhood has become a form of governmentality. ... Using Israel/Palestine as his case study, ... Viterbo [brings to light how] the law and human rights are profoundly implicated in the social production of childhood ... and how ... childhood is ... an instrument of management and control that can be used to repress the young people it claims to represent. ... Viterbo’s arrows are not only directed against [Israeli authorities] ...; he also ... [exposes how] human rights organizations ... affirm in their reports the provisions [of] ... human rights conventions even when the children ... they ‘represent’ reject these provisions and tell the human rights defenders that they prefer not to be governed by them.' Neve Gordon, Professor of Law, Queen Mary University of London

    '[The book] equally scrutinizes the state for its violence as well as the human rights community for its advocacy. ... In addition to offering a damning critique of hyper legality, [the book] ... also disrupts legal distinctions between children/adults, ... thus making radical claims among legal advocates and human rights communities, ... for whom these distinctions constitute a foundation of their critique, and more broadly, their world view.' Noura Erakat, Associate Professor of Africana Studies, Rutgers University

    'Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine breaks important new ground in bringing legal scholars into the social constructionism debate on childhood, while at the same time exposing Israel’s misuse of international law to justify and get away with children’s rights abuses against Palestinians … [It] is a highly organized and coherent book which is meticulously footnoted and based on over a decade of research, much of it in the never looked at Israeli military courts. Hedi Viterbo makes law accessible and relevant to scholars of all disciplines … Many of the issues addressed in the book have international comparisons from modern history, such as armed conflict, young people’s rights, and mistreatment of colonized people, racialized minorities and non-citizens.' Heidi Morrison, University of Wisconsin La Cross, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2021
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781316519998
    • length: 300 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Conceptual and theoretical foundations
    2. Casting the first stone: the Israeli legal system, its human rights critics, and their approaches to young Palestinians
    3. The age of governing: young age as a means of control
    4. Boundary governance: amending childhood and separating Palestinians
    5. Stolen childhood: voice, loss, and trauma in human rights reports
    6. Sights of violence: childhood in the visual battlefield
    7. Infantilization and militarism: soldiers as children, children as soldiers
    8. Unsettling children: Israeli law and settlers' childhood.

  • Author

    Hedi Viterbo, Queen Mary University of London
    Hedi Viterbo is Lecturer in Law at Queen Mary University of London. Previously, he was Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at SOAS, University of London, a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, and a visiting researcher at Columbia University. Dr Viterbo's previous publications include The ABC of the OPT: A Legal Lexicon of the Israeli Control over the Palestinian Territory (2018) (co-authored with Orna Ben-Naftali and Michael Sfard).

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