Stigmergy in informal communities: The unrecognized Bedouin settlements in the Negev, Israel

When and Where

Monday, January 11, 2021 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm


Yaara Rosner, Hebrew University of Jerusalem | HUJI · Department of Geography


Informal settlements seem to lack order and are often regarded by the authorities as holding no value, when planning for rebuilding of the same area or for the relocation of the population to legitimate urbanized areas. In this paper we show, in the case of the Bedouin Villages in the Israeli desert, that consistent patterns of spatial order can be discerned in the way those informal settlements self-organize. Often these patterns reflect unique connections among the community’s social structure and the environments in which they exist. These connections, we argue, are fundamental for the future wellbeing of the community.

Drawing from the study of complex systems, we use the explanatory framework of ‘Stigmergy’ to evaluate the relations observed between social coordination and spatial order in the Bedouin villages in the Israeli Negev desert. Stigmergy, most generally, describes the collective phenomenon of indirect communication and coordination mediated by modifications of the shared environment. In this paper, it is used to identify significant socio-spatial patterns anchoring the traditional narrative of these communities to the structure of the environment they inhabit. 

Speaker Bio

Architect Ya'ara Rosner-Manor is a professional urban planner and a doctoral student at Ben-Gurion University. She is the winner of numerous academic grants and awards, including the Israel Planners' Association "Best Researcher" (2013), and the President of the State of Israel Scholarship for Innovative Scientific Research (2015). Ya'ara is the deputy director of the Urban Clinic at the Hebrew University - an academic body that works to strengthen creative and socially aware urban leadership in Israel. Her research is focused on informal urban structures, and especially on mediating between the constraints of formal planning systems and the needs and aspirations of local communities.

Register here