Gray local governance and Israeli Indigenous Bedouin: Credibility, functionality and the politics of refusal

Erez Tzfadia, Meir Avinoam, Batya Roded, Eli Atzmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our research explores the Bedouin town of Kseife in Israel’s southern district as a case study of a local authority willing to sacrifice the credibility earnable from local population in order to maintain Indigenous symbolic presence against state attempts to eliminate it through assimilation into ‘modern’ and ‘formal’ order. Elimination of Indigenous spatiality, typical to settler-colonialism, resulted in dividing the traditional space and society into ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ spaces. Kseife and its surroundings are socially and geographically sub-divided into three social groups with contrasting interests: (a) landlords (by customary law) who live in squatter (‘informal’) localities (‘informalities’) within and (b) outside the town’s jurisdiction, and (c) landless Bedouin who live in the formally planned neighborhoods in town. However, our study on the spatiality and temporally defined function of the local authority explores that as part of the ‘politics of refusal’ to the elimination of Indigenous spatiality, the local authority functions in-between the two sets of law – state law and tradition, and in-between the dynamic interaction between these three groups. Our findings show that the municipality maneuvers between these contradictions and socio-spatial order, thus failing to achieve credibility, yet maintaining Indigenous symbolic presence. We call this functionality gray governance.
Original languageAmerican English
Article number102484
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bedouin
  • Credibility thesis
  • Customary law
  • Gray local governance
  • Informality
  • Insurgent indigeneity
  • Israel
  • Local authorities


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