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From Frontier to Periphery / מספר לפריפריה

שלמה חסון and Shlomo Hasson
Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies / ארץ-ישראל: מחקרים בידיעת הארץ ועתיקותיה
Vol. כב‎, DAVID AMIRAN VOLUME / ספר דוד עמירן‎ (1991 / תשנ"א), pp. 85-94
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23621577
Page Count: 10
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From Frontier to Periphery / מספר לפריפריה
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Abstract

Frontier, boundary and periphery are quite common concepts in the geographic lexicon, and have been studied from different perspectives: purchase of land, settlement processes, national urban policy, regional inequality, migration patterns, boundary delineation, and political, administrative and military organization. Yet in spite of these studies, one is left with the somewhat disturbing feeling that the geographic literature failed to transcend the material space and to explore the relationships between marginal districts (such as frontiers and peripheries) and symbolic representations. This is precisely what this study seeks to achieve, that is, to move from the material space of production, consumption, exchange and political—administrative organization to the space of images, whose major concern is with signs, codes and symbols. This implies that marginal districts are studied not as they are nor as they are perceived, but rather as they are symbolically constructed and represented. My argument is threefold. First, beside their functional (political—economic) role, Israeli frontier, boundary and periphery have served as a primary source for the construction of images and symbolic representations. These symbolic representations have been read and interpreted in a variety of ways by different social groups and subsequently became loaded with contradictory meanings. Second, the symbolic landscapes, structured and destructured in this manner, have been used by different social groups as utopian and dystopian models for social organization, and thus played an ideological—political role in the struggle over resources and hegemony. Finally, in the course of time, there occurred a symbolic transformation in the geographic representation of Israeli society: from a frontier society to social periphery. Nevertheless, both the frontier and the periphery images fulfill the same utilitarian role of mobilizing economic resources and political support. This essay aims to provide a conceptual framework for the study of these arguments and to analyse some of their manifestations.

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