CMES: How Security Laws Make Citizenship: The Institutional Legacies of the British Empire in Anti-Terror Laws in Israel and India


Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


CMES, Rm 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA

Yael Berda

Academy Scholar, Harvard Academy for International & Regional Studies, WCFIA, Harvard University; Assistant Professor, Dept of Sociology & Anthropology, Hebrew University


The CES Colonial Encounters & Divergent Trajectories

in the Mediterranean Study Group

Abstract: The proliferation of anti-terrorism and counter insurgency laws are often embedded within the contemporary discourse of “the global war on Terror” and practices of homeland security. Security laws are rarely viewed as the sites in which state bureaucracies participated in the construction of citizenship and loyalty to the state. Yet, as these laws define security threats, they also define the limits of legitimate political opposition. Last year, Israel introduced an anti-terrorism law, a process that offers an opportunity to challenge the contemporary discourse by offering an alternative legal history about the colonial origins of these security laws and their relation to citizenship. In this paper, Dr. Berda discloses an alternative analysis of the ways the anti-terrorism bill encapsulates the use of emergency laws in the British Empire. She argues that this legal toolkit enshrines a triple bind between security, loyalty and identity, which the state fashions through bureaucratic means. Through a comparative study security laws in Israel and India, she shows how the British colonial roots of security practices, focused on population management and its classification as loyal to the state, or suspicious, formed the boundaries of citizenship after independence. She argues that the institutionalization of British colonial emergency laws, which occurred differently in Israel and India, deeply impacted the scope and authority of executive power to justify consistent violation to civil rights.


October 17, 2017 || 4:00 to 6:00 pm

CMES, Rm 102, 38 Kirkland St

Cambridge, MA 02138