Self-Liberated Citizens: Unproductive Pleasures, Loss of Self, and Playful Subjectivities in Palestinian Raves

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This article explores the meaning of taharrur (self-liberation) in an emerg-ing Palestinian rave scene in Israel, which includes dancing to electronic music and consumption of illicit drugs. While identifying how the Israeli state enforces soft power on its Palestinian citizens by producing com-plicit and resistant Palestinian subjectivities, the article explains the con-nection between Palestinian nationalist and social religious moralities towards the ravers’ unproductive pleasures. Shaped by the liberal discourse of individual rights in regard to pleasurable activities, taharrur is described by Palestinian ravers as an act of disengagement from both Israeli state biopower and conservative moralities in their own society. Drawing on Bataille’s work, the article argues that the potency of excessive pleasure lies in extreme sensual acts of self-loss, the endurance of risk, and in-volvement in illicit activities to claim internal feelings of authority. Based on literature on play, sociality, and the experience of ecstasy in raves, I further argue that an intended process of subjectification occurs when ravers reduce their individuality to the rhythm of the group and external agency of drugs, to transgress their subject position and conjure a real-ity in which self-liberation can be momentarily felt. This experience may form subversive playful subjectivities that refuse to abide by Palestinian moralities and break free of Israeli definitions of “good Arabs” or “bad Palestinians.”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-708
Number of pages30
JournalAnthropological Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Liberation
  • Palestine/Israel
  • Politics of pleasure
  • Rave culture
  • Risk
  • Subjectivities

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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