Making the analogy with the terrestrial world, where architecture is known to be employed as tool for establishing power, Platform Warfare: Digital Architecture of Occupation is a thesis that poses the digital platform as the architecture of cyberspace: a new virtual landscape, that too is subject to and based on different power structures and concepts of territory.
Using the issue of Airbnb operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank as case-study, the thesis makes a parallel between disruptive tactics that structurally underlay the functioning of digital platforms, modern day traveling and settler colonialism, by this pointing out the relation between colonialism and digital technology as a wider, emerging issue that needs to be discussed.
Initiating for the thesis research is “Common Ground”, a film installation about the involvement of Airbnb in the Israel-Palestine conflict. The film exposes the ways in which Airbnb is propagating structures — or infrastructures — of occupation towards Palestinian users and, by this, indirectly maintains the occupation. The viewer is taken on a journey to the occupied West Bank, visiting Airbnb accommodations in both Palestinian villages and illegal Israeli settlements. By comparing these two, it becomes clear that in fact, both are not given the same options thus treated equal — this in big contrast to how Airbnb presents itself.
The film shows that the notion of traveling itself is a political construct in an area where for a certain demographic group, freedom of movement is not at all self-evident. The journey, that starts as an adventurous road trip becomes more and more uncomfortable when these constructs come to light and show how Airbnb, by allowing listings in illegal Israeli settlements, actually facilitates a platform for financial and ideological support towards the occupation of the West Bank.