Merrill Hopper

Thesis title:

Appropriating Division: Exploring ontologically how material artefacts command spatial differentiation in Israel-Palestine and Apartheid South Africa


We understand ourselves on the basis of who we are not. Within the frame of an unequal, yet integrated world increasingly entrenched with social division, this differential ontology is becoming more apparent. Difference is woven into the social fabric of landscapes. Emerging through hard borders: walls and fences and softer materialities: cultural artefacts and banal symbols of everyday life, political space is starkly separated, as material objects work over the contours of physical geography, creating and maintaining divided landscapes.

Yet these vibrant materialities have been neglected in border studies. This project seeks to bring light to this and explore how material artefacts command difference over landscapes and borderscapes (Rajaram and Grundy-Warr, 2007), (re)producing our relationships to them. Territory and ethnicity are the specific spatial differences compared in this work, in the locales of contemporary Israel-Palestine and Apartheid-era South Africa. Both offer landscapes divided on lines beyond those drawn on a map, whilst offering comparative variables for their occurrence.

Ultimately, the project looks at how human interaction with objects reflects the imaginations they (re)produce. Namely, if hegemonically powerful, an actor can have autonomy over producing an object that inscribes into space a specific discursive view. Conversely, those whose spatial anchors are uprooted by the object, can appropriate it as a weapon to mitigate the spatial effects.

First supervisor:

Dr Andrew Brooks


Pathway 11: Global Order, Violence, & Security Practice