Palestine and the Habeas Viscus

An Auto-ethnography of Travel, Visa Violence, and Borders

  • Abdalhadi Alijla Orient Institute Beirut


Borders have been a political tool to control, manipulate and affect the lives and movements of individual and groups. These borders can also work as a barrier designed and used to discriminate against specific ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups and individuals for political reasons. In specific cases, borders can create a generation of exception, where the lives of a particular group of individuals matter less than others. The Palestinians in Gaza have been living in a state of exception, where their lives have been animalized and constrained both within the Gaza Strip, but also outside the Gaza Strip, at border points of entry in many places. This paper is an auto-ethnography of the lives of Palestinians as a state of exception, visa violence, airports and borders. It examines and describes, as an anthropological phenomenon, experiences such as visa application processes, rejection, travel and encounters with border officials. The article starts with describing the state of exception of a generation who were born and grew up under Israeli occupation. The paper then examines and analyzes the process and ritual of travelling as a quasi-citizen through various border points of entry. This article is an anthropological narrative of how a continuous state of exception and profiling of an individual creates a homo-sacer man.