Middle East Section
Oral Presentation Session
Modern Geology played a significant role in secularizing the sciences, gave space for Darwin's theory of evolution, endowed the earth with a history that preceded human history, and is responsible for our global paradigm of deep time. What remained, however, was the dominant notion of linear time largely divorced from the specificity of place and from local, indigenous forms of knowledge. The discipline’s formation through the Royal Geological Society (RGS) shunned the practical knowledge of local miners for fear of upsetting their lofty theories; this paper argues that this disconnect continues to limit Geological knowledge. Geology was mobilized in service of British Imperial expansion, and as British colonization in Palestine was replaced by Zionism, geological surveys were conducted in service of the Israeli State by Leo Picard, who - as Samer Alatout explains - deployed already known information about water sources and remapped subterranean Palestine as a single hydrogeological system for the Zionist national project. Attention to local, subterranean knowledge in Palestine alerts us to the limits of Geology, as demonstrated, for example, by the inability of the State of Israel to detect Gaza’s tunnels. What if we reconsider Geology’s paradigms (and the linear time that comes with it) and pay closer attention to local knowledge of the (sub)terrain? How might decolonizing knowledge of the surface and depth of the land by instead taking seriously the ways of knowing of the Palestinians most intimately connected to it? Might it reconfigure our understanding of past, present and future?