Place and belonging are ubiquitous topics in public discourse in Israel and Palestine. In academic scholarship and hegemonic narratives alike, nationalism, ethnicity and religion tend to be theorized within relatively bounded, inflexible categories, confined within localized, self-perceived experience. Yet in practice, local subjectivities, actions and discourses of affiliation are multiple, overlapping and adaptable. In recent years, in the shadow of occupation, disillusionment and hyper-nationalism, public performances of ‘alternative’ spaces and identities have challenged fixed spatial boundaries, and performance has become an important site for the expression of alternative imaginations. Via a series of case studies, this thematic issue, co-edited by its four authors, considers expressive culture in territorialized space as a dynamic site for (re)forming and communicating local knowledge, as well as an agent of border drawing and border crossing in Palestine and Israel.