Samer Alatout

Position title: Professor, Community & Environmental Sociology


Phone: (608) 263-0970

336A Agriculture Hall



Postdoctoral Fellow, Dartmouth College, Geography Department, 2002-2003
Ph.D., Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University, 2003


Social theories of power and government; Foucault; theories of border; biopolitics; environmental conflict (water resources and politics of identity); Palestine/Israel and the US/Mexico.


Science and technology studies (sociology and politics of science and technology) Social theories of power and government Biopolitics, Foucault Social theories of territory with a focus on borders Political and cultural geography

Sites of interest
Environmental policy and politics Water politics in the Middle East Environmental politics on the US/Mexico and Palestine/Israel borders International Development and the politics of sustainability


Borders: This research is meant to be a book-length project on the history of the concept of borders in modernity, late modernity, colonial and postcolonial times. At least initially, the empirical focus of the project will be on a comparative study of environmental issues at the borders in the US/Mexico and Palestine/Israel.

Towards a bio-territorial framework of power and government: This theoretical intervention critically engages the writings of Michel Foucault (benefiting from his contributions in biopolitics and relations of power in late modernity) and conventional state theory.

Environmental security/insecurity: In this project I critically engage the notion of national- and human-security, problematize their basic assumptions, and critically investigate the moves in recent decades to understand the environment through different security narratives.

History of rivers as borders: There is ample evidence, maybe somewhat suggestive, that rivers were enrolled in nation and/or state building projects and used as markers of borders in recent history only (last two centuries). This project aims to understand this transformation and its link to the colonial encounter.

Water politics in the Middle East: this is a continuing project on water and identity in Israel and Palestine. More recently, I have been turning to international water politics.


Water Policy in International Contexts
International Development, Environment, and Sustainability

Graduate Seminars
Social theories of Power
Social theories of border
Local and Regional Approaches to Sustainability and Vulnerability


Department of Community and Environmental Sociology
Graduate Program of Sociology
Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Department of Geography
Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies
Center for Culture, History, and Environment
Certificate on the Humans and the Global Environment
Water Resources Program
Middle East Studies Program
Development Studies Program
Agroecology Program
Sustainability and the Global Environment
Center for World Affairs and Global Economy
Global Studies
Global Legal Studies Initiative


Alatout, S. Forthcoming. Water imaginaries and the construction of the political geography of the Jordan River: the Johnston Mission, 1953-1956. In K. Davis and Edmund Burke III (eds.), Environmental Imaginaries of the Middle East: History, Policy, Power & Practice. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press.

Alatout, S. Forthcoming 2009. The Israeli Separation Wall and Technologies of Government: the Double Construction of Geographies of Peace and Conflict, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 99 (5).

Alatout, S. 2009. Bringing abundance back into environmental politics: Constructing a Zionist Network of Abundance, Immigration, and Colonization, 1918-1948. Social Studies of Science 39 (3): 363-394.

Alatout, S. 2008. ‘States’ of Scarcity: Water, Space, and Identity Politics in Israel, 1948-1959.Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26 (6): 959-982.

Alatout, S. 2008. Locating the fragments of the state and their limits: water policymaking in Israel during the 1950s. Journal of Israel Studies Forum 23 (summer): 40-65.

Alatout, S. 2007. State-ing natural resources through law: the codification and articulation of water scarcity and citizenship in Israel. Arab World Geographers 10, 1: 16-37.

Alatout, S. 2007. From abundance to scarcity (1936-1959): a ‘fluid’ history of Jewish subjectivity in historic Palestine and Israel. In Mark LeVine and Sandy Sufian (eds.), Reapproaching the border: new perspectives on the study of Palestine/Israel. New York: Rowan Publishers.

Alatout, S. 2006. Towards a bio-territorial conception of power: territory, population, and environmental narratives in Palestine and Israel. Political Geography 25, 6: 601-621.

Alatout, S. 2005. Narratives of Power: Territory, Population, and Environmental Politics in Palestine and Israel. In Stuart Schoenfeld (ed.), Environmental Narratives in Israel and Palestine. Toronto: Center for Security Studies, the University of Toronto.

Alatout, S. 2000. Water Balances in Palestine, Regional Cooperation, and the Politics of Numbers. In David Brooks and Ozay Mehmet (eds.), Water Balances in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ottawa, Canada: IDRC Books.