Doctoral Project
Mapping Power - Landscape Transformation in the Jordan Valley

Doctoral Project
Dr.Ben Gitai
2022
 

An interaction of three variables can account for landscape transformation processes at Naharayim/el Baqura over the last century and a half: territory, cartography, and terrain. This interaction is examined across three historical periods marking the passage from nomadism to sedentism: The Ottoman Period (1876-1917), the British Mandate (1918-1948), and the statehood period (1948-1994). Adopting a hybridized and interdisciplinary approach at the interstice of history, landscape architecture and geopolitics, this work performs an in-depth analysis of the three variables in each period and examines their relationship to power. The analysis emphasizes territorial concepts and bordermaking, mapping practices, land survey techniques, infrastructure, agricultural development, and water regimes. It will be shown that mapping has been a medium of politics, with landscapes often being subjugated to political or territorial ambitions. Data is gathered from primary sources from the periods in question, some previously unknown, fieldwork, interviews, a point cloud data set from both banks of the Jordan River, as well as contemporary social scientific scholarship. It is argued that landscape is neither a natural feature nor a manmade system of engineered spaces, but rather the outcome of a dynamic interaction between natural landscape, human imagination, and various iterations of power, be they natural, theological, technological, political, or military. It is this dynamic interaction across space and time that this work attempts to map.