Repressive Inclusion

(2017) 49:3 Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 268-293

26 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2020 Last revised: 8 May 2021

See all articles by John Reynolds

John Reynolds

National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Date Written: 2017


This article examines the relation between emergency legal doctrine and racial sovereignty in the context of Palestine. It theorizes Israel's multifarious emergency modalities in a colonial present paradigm where traditional territorial colonization is fused with modern security biopolitics. The Israeli juridical-security apparatus mimics European liberal legalism in presenting itself as generally accepting of human rights obligations, save in circumstances where particular illiberal measures are necessitated on security grounds. These measures, however, comprise a pervasive patchwork of emergency modalities that have penetrated all spheres of Palestinian political, economic and cultural life. The retention and application of the British Mandate-era Defense Emergency Regulations as well as the constitutional state of emergency have produced an emergency marked by longevity and racialization. Furthermore, Israel has invoked the emergency derogation option under international treaties to claim the legality of measures such as mass internment without trial. I articulate these dynamics of legality, emergency and sovereignty in terms of "repressive inclusion": a racially contingent inclusion within – and repression by – the juridical order. This evokes the suffocating hold of racialized emergency legal structures. The consequences for lives and bodies have been severe; the alienation of land and fragmentation of territory have been acute.

Keywords: Emergency Law, State of Emergency, State of Exception, Palestine, Israel, International Law, Colonialism, Race

JEL Classification: K00, K33

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, John, Repressive Inclusion (2017). (2017) 49:3 Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 268-293, Available at SSRN:

John Reynolds (Contact Author)

National University of Ireland, Maynooth ( email )

Maynooth, County Kildare

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