The Vein, the Fingerprint Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector

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28 January 2019

Time: 6:30 - 8:30pm
Venue: Arts Two Film Studio, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS

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2018/2019 Debating Europe Seminar Series– SPECIAL EVENT

What does it mean to call a weapon sophisticated, advanced and precise? This performance takes on the spectacle of technology and its role in the Israeli colonisation of Palestine. Helga Tawil-Souri describes technology as a “mechanism by which we learn to internalise values, beliefs and norms of culture and as a material device in which are encoded the dominant beliefs and norms of society.” Technologies can act as reflections of the societies that develop and use them. They hold myths about national identities and encoded messages about hierarchies. But what if these technologies could talk? What if they could unveil their myths to you, share their secrets, and explain their encoded messages? What if they could reveal the distortion of intelligence embedded within them, the destruction of trust and community they promote and the melancholy and sadness behind their design? Would we still call them sophisticated?

By tracing the technologies that shape Europe’s involvement with the occupation of Palestine this performance tells a story of the global colonial structures that maintain the oppression of the Palestinian. This project is based on the performer’s ethnographic observations of the technologies of Occupation, as well as interviews with Israeli start-up firms who imagine the future through their technologies and interviews with Palestinian police who try to manoeuvre around the limitations imposed by these technologies. It presents weapons fairs in Europe and in Israel where new technologies are put on display and passed around. It discusses the restrictions Israel imposes on the equipment and movement of European police working in the West Bank. Technologies act as windows into the inconsistencies, but also trends that compose this international order of occupation.

Timothy Mitchell’s writings on the colonial exhibition reveal the coloniser’s attraction to its own spectacle of security. ‘Life as exhibition,’ he explains favours structure over reality, appearance over essence. This performance interrogates how Israel’s technologies of occupation reflect a plan that misses an essence of life and movement. From the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, to the segregation wall, to the provision of 3g in the West Bank, to the permit system imposed on Palestinian police, this performance tackles what it may mean to be the reality that circumnavigates a colonial spectacle of order.

This 60-minute performance uses the techniques of drag, melancholia and satire to directly challenge the structures that idealise technologies of war and segregation. By speaking from the position of the object and embodying its design, its circulation and its intervention into life this performance aims to dislocate the appearance of order that permits the waging and witnessing of the continued violence against the Palestinian.

Performance: The Vein, the Fingerprint Machine and the Automatic Speed Detector

Followed by an Transdisciplinary Panel:

"Re-imagining political infrastructures through care and community"


  1. Catherine Charrettis an Early Career Research Fellow for the Independent Social Research Foundation and is currently based at Queen Mary University of London in the School of Politics and International Relations. Dr. Charrett’s work interrogates the ritualised practices and language of security and diplomacy in the Occupation of Palestine. Dr. Charrett uses interdisciplinary methods to disseminate her research, and is the producer of a political performance on EU-Hamas relations entitled, “Politics in Drag: Sipping Toffee with Hamas in Brussels.” Dr. Charrett has also published this research in the European Journal of International Relations and has a forthcoming book with Routledge entitled,Performing Politics: Hamas, the EU and the 2006 Palestinian elections.


Professor Engin Isin research and teaching focus on doing international politics: the ways in which people constitute themselves as actors or subjects of international politics through performances, movements, and struggles. Engin holds a bachelor's degree from Middle East Technical University (Turkey) and graduate degrees from the Universities of Waterloo (MA) and Toronto (PhD). He developed an early interest in continental philosophy and was educated as an historical sociologist and political sociologist. Engin is a chief editor of Citizenship Studies and is the editor of a book series Frontiers of the Political with Rowman & Littlefield International.

Engin is based in Mile End and University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP) establishing a research community across two institutions on doing international politics especially concerning migration, borders, and citizenship. Engin was a professor of social science (1996-2002) and Canada Research Chair (2002-2006) at York University, and a professor of politics at The Open University (2007-2016) before joining QMUL in 2017.


Nasser Golzari 
ARB qualified, fully registered architect since 1990. He is the principal partner in Golzari - NG Architects. MA design module leader at the University of Westminster. A Senior Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University

Yara Sharif
A researcher and a practicing architect working as an Associate in Golzari - NG Architects on projects related to participatory design and social sustainability in London as well as Palestine. Yara is also a lecturer at Oxford Brookes University.

Nasser Golzari and Yara Sharif are part of the Palestine Regeneration Team (PART)

"Seeking a critical form of architecture practice has become an urgent and vital part of any effective regeneration plans for Palestine, a country which is now fragmented and spatially denied its own basic resources.

As practicing architects, urban planners and academics, PART searches for potential spaces of possibilities that can be used to empower the fragmented Palestinian community and bridge the gaps between the divided spaces they now live in."

Dr Sarah Wolff is Director of the Centre for European Research and Lecturer in Public Policy at Queen Mary University of London. She is also a Senior Research Associate at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael). Dr Wolff is an expert on EU politics, Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), migration and border management policies, as well as EU-Arab Mediterranean relations and EU development aid. She is author of the monograph The Mediterranean Dimension of the European Union’s Internal Security (2012) and received the LISBOAN Research Award 2012 for her co-edited book Freedom, Security and Justice after Lisbon and Stockholm (2012). Her current research focuses on Secular Power Europe and EU engagement with Islam for which she was awarded a Fulbright-Schuman and a Leverhulme research grant in 2014/2015. Prior to joining the academia, Dr Wolff worked at DG Devco at the European Commission and as a parliamentary assistant at the European Parliament.

The discussion will be followed by a Q&A involving the audience.

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