The Archeology of Counterinsurgency

by Nicola Perugini, Samir Harb and Mimi Cabell

The Archeology of Counterinsurgency is a collaboration between artist and architect Samir Harb, Middle Eastern studies scholar and political theorist Nicola Perugini, and artist and writer Mimi Cabell. We are currently creating an archive of material that traces the literal and symbolic history of the Tegart forts in Israel and Palestine through multiple systems of design ‑ architecture, the sites themselves, and the language that designed the conditions under which the forts were built, and continues to design their existence. These militarized forts, known today as Mukataa’s, were planned in the 1930’s by British engineer and police officer Sir Charles Tegart to suppress the Palestinian revolt.

After the end of the British Mandate and the creation of Israel, the forts faced different destinies. Many are still in operation today as Israeli prisons, administrative offices, and national heritage sites; the Mukataa in Ramallah, Palestine houses Yasser Arafat’s tomb, serves as the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, and acts as the official West Bank office of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the State of Palestine. The project is an archeology of these different historical trajectories, an attempt to understand what keeps together their heterogeneity.


Nicola Perugini is Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University (Middle East Studies, Italian Studies, Cogut Center for the Humanities). He is the author of The Human Right to Dominate (Oxford University Press, 2015, with Neve Gordon) and is currently working on a book project about the history of human shields. Nicola is a regular contributor to Al Jazeera EnglishLondon Review of Books and Counterpunch. Since 2010, he has been collaborating with the art-research collective Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR).

Samir Harb was born 1981 in Ramallah/Palestinian territories. He is an architect/cartoonist and has been working in the field of architecture and landscape planning in the West Bank since 2006. Harb’s  project focuses on the idea to re-construct the meta-narrative in complex spatial orders. While architecture serves as the body of research in which the territorial, spatial networks, economical and political transformations are saturated. The graphic novel acts as a practice of reordering and shifting between things, events, dialogs, accounts, and archival material. Harb graduated from the Department of Architectural Engineering at Birzeit University in Ramallah in 2006. He finished his studies in 2011 with a Master’s degree in arts at Goldsmiths College in London/United Kingdom. Currently Harb is a PhD candidate in Human Georgraphy at University of Manchester.

Mimi Cabell was formally trained in photography and the language arts; today she is enamored with “the image” and the different ways it can be and always is created through visual and textual grammar. She has shown work in New York, Toronto, and Stuttgart, Germany; and presented or performed at conferences and festivals in Sao Paulo, Paris, London, Hsinchu City, Taiwan, and at MIT in Boston. Her work is held in the Mira Godard Study Centre at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany. She holds a BFA and an MFA in photography, and a second MFA in electronic writing from Brown University. She is currently Assistant Professor in Foundation Studies at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island.