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Civilizing the Desert: the Nature of Planning in the Northern Negev

In current Israeli planning, a tradition of rational order has informed state development strategies. These strategies rely on a concept of nature and the environment that imbue them with the seeming neutrality of technical, science-based decision-making. The current Israeli model of environmental planning favors dense residential development and preserved open space, a pattern that has significant ethno-demographic implications. In the northern Negev desert, where this planning strategy is still taking hold, it favors Jewish settlement over Bedouin. My research focused on afforestation planning in Metropolitan Beer Sheva, where this planning paradigm provides the impetus for displacing Bedouin families from disputed land, and on counterplans that respond by exposing the political implications of state plans and by offering alternative strategies of land development that reconfigure the relationship between development and open space.

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