Reading - Toxipedia

University of Washington
Fall 2013 Office:?
Mon 9-12 ?
Office Hours: by appointment
Sahera Bleibleh, PhD
Steven Gilbert, PhD
Impact of modern warfare on 4Hs: home, human health and habitat
Responding to War and Conflict: Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Impact of War on Home,
Human Health and Built Environments.
Driven by interdisciplinary approach, this course works on multiple levels. The primary focus is on
the changing nature of global tactics of warfare on four major Hs, home, human health and habitat.
Where habitat includes built and ecological environment. Taking the meaning of home as a theme,
this course aims to focus on the interdisciplinary urban and health implications and responses of war
in areas of conflict. Combining theory and reality, we will use Palestine as a case study. In times of
warfare, people’s compulsory journey from evacuation to home return correlates with the meaning
of home “as a place from which to reach out and to which to return,” therefore, home is seen as
rootedness and the central place of human existence.1
Globally, this course aims to provide a general framework for the analysis of societies’ response to
political and military conflict. On the human level, it is meant to discuss peoples’ response to either
natural or man-made, and explore their practices during and the aftermath of either disaster or
conflict. While we are aware of the global policies behind conflicts, this course deals with the
human implications of these policies. The course discusses in- depth the inhabitants’ traumatic
experience under the Israeli occupation and links this with other local, regional and global
examples. The “walking through walls” military strategy that consisted of blowing up the walls,
floors, and ceilings of adjacent homes in the old town of Nablus in the West Bank, and other places,
dramatically altered the built environment and created highly stressful living conditions. It alters the
conceptual meaning of home. For example, during the 2002 Israeli invasion Edjteyah of most of the
main Palestinian cities, the “walking through walls” linguistically and technically represents a
forcible action of power domination and repression over both the landscape and people. This course
demonstrates the ways in which the colonial power contemporary war delays any long-term
planning, development and sovereignty statehood by suspending the people’s everyday life.
Course learning objectives:
Taking the example of Palestine, with focus on the occupation practices on people and the built
environment, and the “walking through walls” military strategy, at the end of this course the student
should be able to:
1. To explore the impact of modern warfare on peoples’ habitat, everyday life and space.
2. To recognize, describe and define the meaning of home in times of political and military
: (Norberge-Schultz, 1971& 1972; Relph, 1976; and Tuan, 1977).
3. To critique and classify linkages and interrelations between the people’s disrupted habitat
and their health.
4. To outline and compare socio-institutional polices that mitigate the implications of conflict
and violence. This includes, people, local institutions, regional and international
Course requirements and audience:
The interdisciplinary nature of the course makes it appealing for undergraduate and graduate
students from the fields of built environment, public health, psychology, geography, public policy,
anthropology, planning and others interested in the impact of political and military conflict on the
4Hs. This course is either two classes per week, or a three-hour a week. Students are expected to
read the assigned materials and be prepared for in class discussions. A mid-term paper and a final
team projects are required, as follows:
 Class participation
Students are expected to attend each class and participate in class discussion. Instructors will
provide questions to help the students focus the discussion. Students are expected to
periodically turn in reflections on the assigned readings. Graduate students are expected to
lead a class discussion based on the assigned readings.
 Virtual wall in class: This introductory assignment. Students will write one paragraph/page
about their experience going home on the other side of the virtual wall using an alternative
route. Imagine the context of time and space taking in consideration that you need to have
your ID and to be at home no late than 5pm in the evening.
 Mid-term poster/paper/interview: Students have the option to choose either A or B, as
A. Considering the historical context of the different geopolitical areas of conflict, students
are encouraged to look around to present a comprehensive perspective on how they think
history is related to current status in their selected local and international cases that
emphasize the 4Hs. Each student will choose an area of interest based on her/his
experience and the course outline to design a poster that may serve as the basis for
developing their own final paper. Graduate students will have 5-7 minutes to present
their posters in class for comments and feedback. The final paper is due in the last class.
Undergraduate students are expected to turn in their proposed poster for feedback.
B. Considering displacement related to homes as a theme, conduct an interview with any
individual of your network who has experienced trauma of displacement due to
experiencing political conflict in their homeland. A transcript and reflection on the
interview context must be submitted. Graduate students are expected to present their
papers in class.
 Final interdisciplinary paper/project
A. Interdisciplinary team of 2-3 students is expected to submit a short abstract for their
proposed project, if it is different from one of their posters. The project includes a
summary report and power point slides. The students may think of other local, regional
and international cases of conflict implications on 4Hs to present in class. Based on the
number of interdisciplinary teams, the last class will be dedicated to the presentations.
B. For the students who chose the interview midterm, a follow up assignments on the
individual or community’s healing or adaptation experience, taking into consideration
dimension regarding home, family, socio-cultural and environmental implications.
For all assignments, the instructors will provide feedback and potential resources as needed either
during office hours or scheduled meetings.
Course outline and meetings
As daily update, the first 15 minutes of each class are meant to share news around the world. This
may include personal stories, current events, poetry, art, publications, lectures…etc. of local and
international contexts.
Session 1: Introduction
Chronology of the course, protocol, logistics, assignments, participation, and conflicts around the
world… etc. Prepare a presentation on the evolving concept of conflict and its impact on the
community globally, with a focus on Palestine. The instructors will describe their personal
experiences in Nablus and Gaza Strip.
Dissertation (Bleibleh, 2012): History and conflict.
Khalidi, R. (1997). Palestinian identity: The construction of modern national consciousness. New
York: Columbia University Press.
Gordon, N. (2008). Israel's occupation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Khamaisi, R. (1997). Israeli use of the British Mandate planning legacy as a tool for the control of
Palestinians in the West Bank. Planning Perspectives. 12 (3), 321-340.
Yiftachel, O. (2001). The power of planning: Spaces of control and transformation. The GeoJournal
library, v. 67. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.
Levy, Barry S. (Editor), Sidel, Victor W. (Editor) (2008). War and Public Health. Oxford University
Session 2: General theory in built environment and public health.
The interrelationship between the 4Hs: some of the following aspects will be considered:
Home: Human interaction with their built environments, for example, accessibility to home
(displacement, homelessness, squatters and slums), construction materials and urban sprawl and
regulations, amenities (accessibility to groceries, hospitals, schools, infrastructure, internet,
Human health: Clean water and air, drinking and wastewater, garbage, landscape and social justice,
bombed walls and tunnels, PTSD and continuous stress, well-being, education and access to school.
Habitat: natural and ecological landscape, transportation and free movement, power and fuel
supplies, natural resources, such as fishing and limited water access.
Ali, M. A.-D. (January 01, 2007). Expected scenarios of environmental threats in Iraq compared
with Kuwait's case. Disaster Prevention and Management, 16, 3, 391-400.
Bernard, A. (January 01, 2010). Another Black September? Palestinian writing after 9/11. Journal
of Postcolonial Writing, 46, 3-4.
Eyles, J., & Williams, A. (2008). Sense of place, health and quality of life. Aldershot, England:
Sloterdijk, P., Patton, A., & Corcoran, S. (2009). Terror from the air. Los Angeles: Semiotext (e).
Environmental Assessment of the Gaza Strip following the escalation of hostilities in December
2008 – January 2009, - United Nations Environment Programme, 2009, ISBN: 978-92-807-3041-8,
Session 3(a): Socio-political context in Palestine
The story of the place: History of homeland and colonialism, origin of conflict and the occupation’s
political strategies of colonization of land, such as, walls (changing nature of their function and
philosophy), checkpoints and restrictions of movements, land confiscation, home demolitions, trees
uprooting, settlements, bypass roads, and non-violence resistance and everyday life.
Levy, B. S., & Sidel, V. W. (2011). Water rights and water fights: preventing and resolving
conflicts before they boil over. Am J Public Health, 101(5), 778-780.
Sidel, V. W., & Levy, B. S. (2003). War, terrorism, and public health. J Law Med Ethics, 31(4),
Sidel, V. W., & Levy, B. S. (2008). The health impact of war. Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot, 15(4),
Weizman, E., & Tartakover, D. (2003). A civilian occupation: The politics of Israeli architecture.
Tel Aviv: Babel.
Weizman, E. (2007). Hollow land: Israel's architecture of occupation. London: Verso.
Session 4 (b): Facts on the ground
More on the story of the place: present the instructors’ personal stories on Gaza tour, the wall, and
Nablus, including “politics of walls” under the occupation. (assignments presentation)
Bleibleh, S. (2010). Everyday Urbanism Between Public Space and “Forbidden Space”: The Case
of the Old City of Nablus, Palestine. eScholarship, University of California Segal, R.,
Graham, S. (2004). Cities, war, and terrorism: Towards an urban geopolitics. Malden, MA:
Blackwell Publishing.
Gregory, D. (2004). The colonial present: Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. Malden, MA:
Blackwell Pub.
Weizman, E. (January 01, 2006). Walking through Walls: Soldiers as Architects in the IsraeliPalestinian Conflict. Radical Philosophy, 136, 8.
Session 5: Institutional set-up in Palestine
Education, health, service, NGOs, and Gaza community for mental health (contact doctors without
borders), PA responsibility
Posters presentations
Amiry, S., & Hadid, M. (2002). Earthquake in April. Ramallah, Palestine: RIWAQ, Center for
Architectural Conservation.
Dissertation (Bleibleh, 2012): Introduction and part of Ch4
Gregory, D. (March 24, 2005). Palestine and the "War on Terror". Comparative Studies of South
Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 24, 1, 183-195.
Hammami, R. (July 01, 2002). Interregnum: Palestine after Operation Defensive Shield. Middle
East Report, 223, 18-27.
Reporters sans frontières (Association). (2003). Israel/palestine: The black book. London: Pluto
Press in association with Reporters Without Borders.
Session 6: The case of Nablus and the built environment
Dissertation (Bleibleh, 2012): Introduction, Ch1, Ch4, Ch5 and Ch6
Session 7: Guest speakers and films (Jenin and Nablus)
Reading: Bob, Rich, Gerri, Kara Mochan..
Session 8: commonalities in war philosophy and consequences on human and built environment
ecological system
Hunt, N. C. (2010). Memory, war, and trauma. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Bevan, R. (2006). The destruction of memory: Architecture at war. London: Reaktion.
Kienzler, H. (2008). Debating war-trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in an
interdisciplinary arena. Social Science & Medicine (1982). 67 (2), 218-27.
Session 9: students’ presentations
Reading list
Proposed themes: Theory, built environment and well-being, war, trauma, and PTSD, case
Dissertation (Bleibleh, 2012), selected chapters: Introduction, Ch1, Ch4, Ch5 and Ch6
Additional Links:
Walking Through Walls: Retrieved March 10,
Jenin Jenin:
Confronting trauma in Hebron:
Mahmoud Darwish poetry:
On this earth:
DUST TO DUST - By Andrew McConnell, Harper’s Magazine / June 2011, p50-53.
(Sidel & Levy, 2008) (Levy & Sidel, 2011; Sidel & Levy, 2003)
Levy, B. S., & Sidel, V. W. (2011). Water rights and water fights: preventing and resolving
conflicts before they boil over. Am J Public Health, 101(5), 778-780.
Sidel, V. W., & Levy, B. S. (2003). War, terrorism, and public health. J Law Med Ethics, 31(4),
Sidel, V. W., & Levy, B. S. (2008). The health impact of war. Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot, 15(4),
Instructor biographies
Sahera Bleibleh received her PhD in 2012 in Urban Design and Planning at the University of
Washington, Seattle. Her research focuses on the spatial and behavioral consequences political and
military conflicts on the community and urban environment. Sahera's broader research interest
includes anthropology of place and sociopolitical production of space, identity and culture issues,
the everyday life and resilience in areas of conflict, particularly on the resilience of inhabitants in
under-siege Palestine and sense of place-identity.
As a feminist architect and planner, Sahera's interdisciplinary research approach integrates public
scholarly in academia to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Besides teaching, during her
practical experience as a consultant with the United Nation, the World Bank and the European
Commission, Sahera’s advocates for alleviating constraints by promoting bottom-up approach of
planning and communicating qualitative aspects of the everyday life experience.
This course is based in part on Sahera’s dissertation, (2012) “Everyday Life: Spatial Oppression and
Resilience under the Israeli Occupation. The Case of the Old Town of Nablus.”
Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and
Neurological Disorders (INND), has a Ph.D. in toxicology and is a Diplomat of American Board of
Toxicology. He is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational
Health Sciences, University of Washington. Dr. Gilbert’s research has focused on neurobehavioral
effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. His book, A
Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals was published in 2004 and the
2nd edition is available for free as an E-book ( He recently started the wiki
based web site Toxipedia ( which includes a suit of sites that put scientific
information in the context of history, society, and culture ( He has made two
trips to Gaza along with physicians and health care professionals with the Physicians for Social
Responsibility to document and improve conditions in Gaza. He developed a talked entitled “A
Toxic Tour of Gaza” that describes the conditions encounter by the Palestinians living in Gaza. He
is active in promoting peace and health in a world free of conflict and nuclear weapons.
Virtual wall in class: Write one paragraph/page on your experience going home on the other side of
the virtual wall. Imagine the context of time and space taking in consideration that you need to have
your ID and to be there no late than 5pm in the evening. Also, you need to use an alternative route.