Between Environment and Settlement: Anthropology as a Contributor to Mediation, Empathy, and the Critique of Common Sense
In this article, I place anthropological knowledge in the context of the social analysis of environment, nature, and space. I outline the main trends in environmental and nature-related anthropological writing, describe the studies conducted in this field in Israel, and focus on the analysis of the tension between environmental activists and various agencies working to promote settlement. A central part of the article is a description and analysis of my position as a researcher who is caught up in the struggles surrounding the establishment of new settlements and the conservation of acacia trees in the Arava. I describe the complexity of introducing an anthropologist into the role of mediator in conflicts, along with the power of anthropological knowledge in solving conflicts and understanding environmental and social struggles. By relating to anthropology as a "critique of common sense," I argue that understanding the relationships, connections, and influences between society and the environment allows us to better understand the culture and society in which we live.