David Newman (political geographer)

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David Newman
David Newman.jpg
Born (1956-07-04) 4 July 1956 (age 59)
London, UK
Fields Political geography; Geopolitics
Institutions Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Tel Aviv University
Alma mater Durham University, University of London
Known for Geopolitics, Border research, Territory in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

David Newman OBE (4 July 1956) is a British-Israeli scholar in political geography and geopolitics. He serves as professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Department of Politics and Government and editor of the academic journal Geopolitics.[1] In March 2010, Newman was elected Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences for the period 2010–2013, and re-elected for a second period extending until 2016.


David Newman was born in London. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Queen Mary College at the University of London (1978) and a PhD in geography from the University of Durham, England (1981). In 1982 immigrated to Israel, following which he was appointed as lecturer in the Tel Aviv University Department of Geography. In 1987 he became a senior lecturer in the Department of Geography at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. From 1996 to 1998 he served as Director of its Hubert Humphrey Institute for Social Research. In 1988 he founded the Ben-Gurion University Department of Politics and Government,[2] and served as its first chairperson until 2003. That year he facilitated the founding of the BGU Centre for the Study of European Politics and Society (CSEPS), with which he is affiliated.[3]

From 1997 to 2003, and again from 2009 until present, Newman published a weekly op-ed column in the Jerusalem Post. Newman also published essays and opinion columns in newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times, the Guardian, and Tikkun Magazine. His political activities have focused on the Israeli peace camp, strongly arguing for territorial withdrawal and the establishment of a Palestinian State alongside Israel as part of a Two State solution to the conflict.

From 1999 – 2014, Newman served as editor, together with Professor John Agnew from UCLA, and more recently with Prof Simon Dalby from the University of Waterloo in Canada, of the international journal Geopolitics, published quarterly by Taylor and Francis (Routledge).[4]

Newman played a leading role in the defence of Israeli universities and the academic community in the face of a proposed academic boycott of Israel during 2006–2008.[5][6][7][8]

Newman is involved actively in the public discourse in Israel. He writes a weekly oped column in the Jerusalem Post. Many of these articles touch on issues relating to Israeli politics, the Israel-Palestine conflict and the interface of politics and academia. During 2012–2013, Newman was active in defending his University and Department against attempts at right wing political intervention on the part of Israel's Council of Higher Education (the CHE).

Since the mid-1990s, Newman has been active in activities which negate the attempts to impose any form of academic boycott on Israeli scholars or institutions. He represented Israel's universities in the UK. He has been subject to attacks by organisations in Israel that Newman has described as "extremist right-wing groups", such as Isracampus, Academic Monitor, Im Tirzu, and the NGO Monitor,[9][10] for his founding and leadership of the Department of Politics and Government at the University and for his left of center political positions on the Arab-Israel conflict. This has not prevented him from being elected, almost unanimously, for a second term of Faculty Dean for the period 2013–2016.

Newman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to higher education and the humanities and promoting academic links between the UK and Israel.[11]

In June 2014, Ben Gurion University appointed Newman as the first incumbent of a new University Professorial Chair in Geopolitics.[12]


Newman's published work focuses on three main areas of research:

a) The territorial dimensions of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.[13] Newman has analysed the impact of the West Bank settlement network and the settler movement Gush Emunim.[14] He has also carried out research on the changing territorial configurations of a Two State solution to the conflict with a particular emphasis on the Green Line boundary which separates Israel from the West Bank.[15] During the early 1990s, Newman undertook joint work with Arab geographer, Ghazi Falah looking at the territorial and border implications of a Two State solution, some of earliest collaborative work between Israeli and Palestinian scholars to have been undertaken in. This resulted in a series of four published articles[16] as well as a retrospective look at the problems of undertaking collaborative research of this nature.[17]

b) A conceptual discussion relating to the functions and significances of borders in the contemporary period of globalisation. Newman has published a counter narrative to globalisation notions of a borderless and deterritorialised world, arguing that borders retain their significance in the contemporary world and that there is no such thing as deterritorialisation, only reterritorialisation in which spatial configurations of power are constantly being reconfigured.[18] Not only does territory and, by association borders, retain their significance, but Newman emphasises the need to focus on the symbolic dimensions of territory and the ways in which this feeds into the formation of national identity and attachment to place and space, in addition to the more traditional discussions which focus on the tangible and physical characteristics of territory, such as size, shape and physical resources.[19] In the study of borders, Newman has moved beyond the study of international boundaries as it has been analysed within the Geographical and Political Science disciplines, to a multi-dsciplinary discourse involving sociologists, anthropologists, jurists and other scholars in an attempt to reshift the focus away from borders as lines on the map, to the more dynamic and functional processes of bordering within the wider realms of society and space, including the unseen and invisible borders which separate groups from each other.[20]

c) In recent years Newman has begun to study the problematic interface of academics and politics. This is relevant in two spheres: the first of these concerns the specific nature of political intervention in the academic process in Israel and the growing attempts by a right wing government, and its politically appointed Council of Higher Education (CHE), to intervene in university departments which do not, in their view, adopt the correct political line. Secondly, the nature of university funding and the increasing technocratic model of university management, based on index factors, efficiency and profitability, has come under scrutiny as a system which essentially negates the essence of Social Sciences, Humanities and the Liberal Arts. This is becoming increasingly problematic within Israeli universities and has become a point of much debate in recent years. Newman conducts an annual graduate seminar on thse issues for MA and PhD students from throughout the 21 Department Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at his university.

Affiliations and public activities[edit]

Newman is associated with a number of border and boundary related institutions, such as the International Boundaries Research Unit[21] in the UK, the Association of Borderland Studies[22] in the USA, the Border Regions in Transition (BRIT) network, and, until 2012, as the Secretary of the Commission on the World Political Map (WPM) of the International Geographical Union.[23] He has facilitated and attended as keynote speaker at international gatherings dealing with geopolitical and border related issues. Newman has spent periods of time as visiting professor and research fellow at a number of universities and research institutions throughout Europe and North America. In 2006, Newman was the Leverhulme Professor in Geopolitics at the University of Bristol in the UK.

Newman has been involved in a series of research projects, peace-related activities and a variety of Track II discussions and negotiations. This includes joint Israeli-Palestinian projects looking at territorial and border issues, funded by the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (both with Ghazi Falah, the United States Institute of Peace in a project examining potential cross-border co-operation between Israel and a future Palestinian State, a European Union consortium project looking at the role of the EU in intervening in border conflicts,[24] and a European Union Partnership in Peace programme, facilitating peace related workshops for religious teachers in Israel and Palestine. From 2012–2016, Newman is part of a 20 university pan-European consortium of the FP7 (EU) funded project on Borderscapes, headed up by the University of Joensuu in Finland. In 2013, Newman and Ben-Gurion University became part of the new borders project, Borders in Globalization, funded by the Canadian SSHRC and headed by Prof. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly at the University of Victoria, Canada.


  1. ^ David Newman biography at the Guardian
  2. ^ Information on the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  3. ^ Information on the Centre for the Study of European Politics and Society
  4. ^ http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/14650045.asp Geopolitics at Taylor and Francis
  5. ^ http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1180450954999&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
  6. ^ http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1206632360404
  7. ^ http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1188392510998&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull
  8. ^ Newman, David. "The academic boycott of Israel", Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2 (2), 45–56, 2008.
  9. ^ David Newman (5 December 2011). "An academic lynching". The Jerusalem Post. 
  10. ^ David Newman (9 February 2010). "Borderline Views: The politics of delegitimization". The Jerusalem Post. 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60534. p. 25. 15 June 2013.
  12. ^ http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/Pages/news/Profchair_geopolitics.aspx
  13. ^ Newman, David'The geopolitics of peacemaking in Israel-Palestine', Political Geography, Vol 21 (5), 629–646, 2002.
  14. ^ Newman, David, 'From "hitnachalut" to "hitnatkut": The Impact of Gush Emunim and the Settlement Movement on Israeli Society', Israel Studies, Vol 10 (3), 192–224, 2005.
  15. ^ Newman, David. Boundaries in Flux: The Green Line Boundary between Israel and the West Bank – Past, Present and Future. Monograph Series, Boundary and Territory Briefings, No. 7, International Boundaries Research Unit: University of Durham, England, 1995; ` The Renaissance of a Border which Never Died: The Green Line between Israel and the West Bank’, in A. Diener & J. Hagen (eds), Border Lines: History and Politics of Odd International Borders. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.
  16. ^ Newman, David & Falah, Ghazi 'The spatial manifestation of threat: Israelis and Palestinians seek a "good" border', Political Geography, 14 (8), 689–706, 1995; `Small state behaviour: On the formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip', Canadian Geographer, 39 (3), 219–234, 1995; `State formation and the geography of Palestinian self determination', Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (TESG), 87 (1), 60–72, 1996; `Bridging the gap: Palestinian and Israeli discourse on autonomy and statehood',Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 22 (1), 111–129, 1997.
  17. ^ Newman, David. `Writing together separately: critical discourse and the problems of cross-ethnic coauthorship', Area, 28 (1), 1–12, 1996
  18. ^ Newman, David,. 'On borders and power: A Theoretical Framework', Journal of Borderland Studies, Vol 18 (1), 13–25, 2003; `The Resilience of Territorial Conflict in an Era of Globalization’, In M. Kahler & B. Walter, (eds), Territoriality and Conflict in an Era of Globalization. Cambridge University Press, 2005; `The lines that continue to separate us: Borders in our borderless world’, Progress in Human Geography, Vol 30 (2), 1–19, 2006.
  19. ^ Newman, David. `Real spaces – Symbolic spaces: Interrelated notions of territory in the Arab-Israel conflict', In P. Diehl (ed), A Road Map to War: Territorial Dimensions of International Conflict. Vanderbilt University Press: Nashville, Tennessee. pp. 3–34, 1999; `Territorial identities in a deterritorialized world: From national to post-national territorial identities in Israel/Palestine’, Geojournal, Vol 53, 235–246, 1–12, 2002; ‘The formation of national identities in Israel / Palestine: The construction of spatial knowledge and the contested territorial narratives’, In N. Slocum (ed), Promoting Conflict or Peace Through Identity. Ashgate Publishers, UK, 2008.
  20. ^ Newman, David. `Borders and bordering: towards an interdisciplinary dialogue’, European Journal of Social Theory, Vol 9 (2), 171–186, 2006; `Contemporary Research Agendas in Border Studies: An Overview' in Doris Wastl-Water (Ed) A Companion to Border Studies. Ashgate Publishers, UK, 2009.
  21. ^ http://www-ibru.dur.ac.uk
  22. ^ http://www.absborderlands.org
  23. ^ http://www.cas.muohio.edu/igu-cpg
  24. ^ Yacobi, Haim & Newman, David, 'The EU and the Israel/Palestine Conflict', In Thomas Diez, Mathias Albert & Stephan Stetter (Eds) The European Union and Border Conflicts. Cambridge University Press, pp. 173–202, 2008

External links[edit]