Israel as Homotopia

Milani, T. and Levon, E. (2019) ‘Israel as homotopia: Language, space, and vicious belonging’ Language in Society, 48 (4) 607-628.


Israel has recently succeeded in presenting itself as an attractive haven for LGBT constituencies. In this article, we investigate how this affective traction operates in practice, along with the ambiguous entanglement of normativity and antinormativity as expressed in the agency of some gay Palestinian Israelis vis-à-vis the Israeli homonationalist project. For this purpose, we analyze the documentary Oriented (2015), produced by the British director Jake Witzenfeld together with the Palestinian collective Qambuta Productions. More specifically, the aim of the article is twofold. From a theoretical perspective, we seek to demonstrate how Foucault’s notion of heterotopia provides a useful framework for understanding the spatial component of Palestinian Israeli experience, and the push and pull of conflicted identity projects more generally. Empirically, we illustrate how Israel is a homotopia, an inherently ambivalent place that is simultaneously utopian and dystopian, and that generates what we call vicious belonging.

Key words: Code-switching, heterotopia, homonationalism, normativity, pinkwashing, sexuality, space.