Jake Silver

Cultural Anthropology

My research offers a view into Israel’s occupation of Palestine through the lens of the sky. I explore how the astronomy and astrophysical sectors have emerged alongside and through colonial ones, working with Palestinian scientists who navigate tenuous conditions to build up their labs and education outreach groups: securing equipment through complicated Israeli bureaucracies; organizing their trips and observatories according to Israeli checkpoints rather than optimal conditions; and forging international alliances for university and research funding. At the Digital Knowledge Lab, I’m working to visualize this vertical imaginary, specifically by mapping important astronomy and astrophysics sites in Palestine against various colonial backdrops: the changing shape of Israel and Palestine’s borders; Israel’s own vertical imaging of Palestinians from above (both with drones and satellites); Google Earth’s corporatized investment in vertical visualization; and others. I hope to create an interactive space for digital engagement about a topic that is normally quite contentious, a topic where a seemingly universal thing—the sky—itself becomes a politic and illuminates the everyday conflicts of making science.