How can infrastructure be criminal? How does a mine, an electricity grid, a prison or a factory, become a perpetrator of violence, insecurity and threat? Material Crimes tries to answer these questions. Each episode investigates a different, discrete piece of infrastructure, tracing its global - often colonial - connections across time and space. They show us how the physical sites of everyday life are intimately linked to networks of private and public actors that inflict violence on spaces and communities often living on the margins. The series also shines a spotlight on the movements people have built to reveal and challenge the infrastructural crimes that harm them.

Season 1 is currently broadcasting and Season 2 is under production. 

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The White Elephant

What on earth can a central bus station have to do with racial capitalism and settler-colonialism? This week’s host, Mor Cohen, tells the story of the Central Bus Station (CBS) in the Tel Aviv neighbourhood Neve Sha’anan. Talking to activist Shula Keshet and academic Sharon Rotbart, Mor learns how the CBS’ fortunes show how Israel concretises its colour lines in the urban environment. These racial divisions pit the wellbeing of Israel’s different precarious communities against one another - in this case, Neve Sha’anan’s largely Mizrahi Jewish residents resisting the station’s polluting effect on their neighbourhood, and Israel’s migrant communities who have eked out precarious ecosystems within the CBS.

And, as we’ll learn with Mor, underlying all of this, is the spectre of settler-colonialism. Long before the 1948 nakba (catastrophe), peripheral neighbourhoods such as Neve Sha’anan were planned as front line settlements separating Jews and Palestinians. Still used as a buffer between Jewish cities and Israel’s dwindling Palestinian urban areas, Mor tries to understand the significance of Neve Sha’anan today as an expression of Israel’s settler-colonial violence in the present.

Useful Links
Hotline for Refugees and Migrants (in Israel):

Further Reading
Roṭbard Sharon. “White City, Black City: Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa,” (London: PlutoPress, 2018).

Tali Hatuka. “Violent Acts and Urban Space in Contemporary Tel Aviv,” (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010).

Yara Sa'di-Ibraheem. “Jaffa’s Times: Temporalities of Dispossession and the Advent of Natives' Reclaimed Time,” Time and Society 29:2 (2020), pp.340-361

Shula Keshet. “Israel's "Backyard": First South Tel Aviv then Holot,” +972 magazine, November 11, 2014

Mor Cohen is a Leverhulme EC fellow at the department of Geography, University of Sheffield. Her research examines spaces of dissent and the politics of art in Israel/Palestine since the 1970s. She's currently based in Manchester.