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Environment and History

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Environment and History

British Water Policy in Mandate Palestine: Environmental Orientalism and Social Transformation

John Broich

Environment and History 19 (2013): 255-281. doi: 10.3197/096734013X13690716950028

During the period of the British Mandate in Palestine, British water policies combined with Zionist groups’ settlement and ‘development’ activities to drastically change the waterscape in the region. The changing water conditions had dire consequences for rural Arabs’ ability to carry on farming, support livestock, and undertake water-dependent industries. The roots of British water policy lay in part in conceptions of the so-called Arab ‘race’. An instance of ‘environmental Orientalism’, this case offers an opportunity to examine links between racial conceptions and environmental changes that had lasting influence on landscapes and peoples. 

KEYWORDS: Arab farming; drainage; environmental Orientalism; Israel; Mandate; Palestine; water history; Zionism.

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