Israel Studies Seminar: Perspectives on Israel.
During this academic year, the Israel Studies Seminar will explore what it means to widen the horizons of conventional discourse about Israel by focusing on various perspectives of Israel.
The seminar’s objective is to situate Israel within broader contexts, including thematic, theoretical, methodological, epistemological, and geo-strategical. Our speakers this year are invited to offer views of Israel from the socio-political or historical vantage points of various traditions, groups, cultures and states, or from certain epistemological perspectives. We hope that by doing so we will be able to illuminate topics that may be otherwise neglected in the field of Israel studies, but are nevertheless crucial for understanding Israeli and Middle Eastern politics at large.
Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: Maja Gildin Zuckerman: The Pragmatism of Proto-Zionism: Tracing Jewish Nation-building through a Cultural Sociological Framework
Maya Gildin Zuckerman discusses a 1897 tour from London to Palestine as a moment in the Zionist meaning making process. Zionist emergence and its early developments have often been told either as a person/organisation-centred narrative or a Herderian cultural-geographically distinct account (see Dubnov 2011). Through the empirical case study of Danish Zionist emergence, I will show Zionism as an entangled and networked phenomenon that forced the involved parts to rethink Jewish belonging as either here or there. In the lecture, I unfold how a proto-Zionist tour from London to Palestine and back in 1897 inspired the participants, among which was the Danish-Jewish physician, Louis Frænkel, to discover and make sense of what Zionism meant to them. Based on a cultural sociological framework, I show how this proto-Zionist trip became a catalyst for re-coding Jewish values for a group of European Jews. They subsequently returned to their different nation-states and local Jewish communities with a repertoire of new ways of enacting Jewish collectivity that, among other things, reshuffled the earlier marginalisation of small Jewish communities such as the Danish.
Maja Gildin Zuckerman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School. She was the Jim Joseph Postdoctoral Fellow at Education and Jewish Studies at Stanford University. Her research centers around questions related to modern and contemporary Jewish citizenship, the civil sphere, and national in/exclusion relations. She has co-edited the book New Perspectives on Jewish Cultural History: Boundaries, Experiences, and Sense-Making (New York, Routledge, 2019). She holds a PhD from University of Southern Denmark in Middle Eastern Studies (2016), a MA in Sociology and Anthropology from Tel Aviv University (2012), and a BA in Anthropology and Jewish Studies from Copenhagen and Haifa University.
Jamie Stern-Weiner: IHRA: The Politics of a Definition
Jamie Stern-Weiner (Oxford) traces the genesis and evolution of a controversial 'working definition' of antisemitism. The Working Definition of Antisemitism was originally presented in modest terms: a common reference point enabling monitoring bodies to collect data in a manner that permitted cross-country comparison. Some 15 years on, a formidable array of Jewish organisations and supportive Governments is lobbying around the world to have the Working Definition of Antisemitism institutionalised across political and social life. This juggernaut is everywhere provoking opposition - albeit disparate and poorly resourced - led by dissident Jewish groups and Palestinians. The Working Definition's advocates argue that, in order to combat antisemitism, one has to define it. This talk will examine the political genesis and instrumentalisation of the Working Definition to ask: Do we need a definition of antisemitism in order to fight it? If so, should it be this one? If not, what purpose does this definition serve?
Jamie Stern-Weiner is a DPhil candidate in Area Studies at the University of Oxford. He is the editor of Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine's Toughest Questions (OR Books, 2018) and Antisemitism and the Labour Party (Verso, 2019).
Anna Prashizky: Connecting Ethnicity and Space: The New Russian-Mizrahi-Mediterranean Pop Culture in Israel’s Periphery
Ann Prashizky discusses 'self orientalistation' by the 1.5 generation of FSU immigrants to Israel. Abstract
This seminar explores the mutual influences between urban spaces and ethnic relations and hierarchies in the cultural field. It hinges on the two theoretical arguments: that physical place influences intergroup/ethnic relations, and that ethnic relations may reshape the meaning of spaces, especially in the urban context. Both ethnicity and space involve political contestations over their meaning and emerge from the interplay between materiality and culture. Young Russian-speaking ethnic entrepreneurs in Israel have invented the new cultural trope of Mizrahi or Mediterranean Russianness, expressed in various venues of pop culture in which they are involved as cultural producers: video clips, festivals, and music and dance performances. This counter-intuitive merger reflects the mainstreaming of Mizrahi styles and genres in the Israeli culture. It also challenges the Orientalist attitudes towards Mizrahim prevalent among Russian immigrants in Israel, especially the older generation.
I examine the nexus between the spatiality and materiality of this new culture which has emerged within Israel’s geographic and social periphery. The third space is thus being produced that undermines the alleged Mizrahi/Russian binary and the perception of these identities as essences which are in opposition in a racial and ethnic context. It enables the mixing of categories, and the possibility of creating a new material style and new artistic objects.
Anna Prashizky is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Western Galilee College. Her research interests are in the area of the anthropology of Judaism and the immigration from FSU in Israel. Her recent articles dealing with the 1.5 generation of Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel were published in such journals as Journal of Israeli History, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Ethnicities, and Social Identities.
Adam Sutcliffe: Light Unto the Nations - The Idea of Jewish Purpose and the Emergence of Zionism (Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar)
Adam Sutcliffe (KCL) discusses how Zionist ideologues have viewed the notion of Jewish purpose. The nineteenth-century emergence of Zionism was intimately connected to the idea that the Jews served a uniquely crucial role in the world. This notion is rooted in theological anticipations, both Jewish and Christian, of a messianic future. From it the 1860s took on distinct overtones of economic and geo-political transformation, and spread in various ways into the secular realm. In this paper I will show how ideas of Jewish purpose feature in both Jewish and non-Jewish Zionist thinking, from Joseph Salvador and Ernest Laharanne in 1860, through George Elliot, Theodor Herzl and Bernard Lazare, to the religious Zionism of Abraham Kook and the secularised ‘light unto the nations’ rhetoric of David Ben-Gurion.
Adam Sutcliffe is Professor of European History at King’s College London. His most recent book is What Are Jews For: History, Peoplehood, and Purpose (Princeton University Press, 2020). His co-edited volumes include The Cambridge History of Judiasm, volume VII (1500-1815) (CUP, 2018) and Philosemitism in History (CUP, 2011). He is currently working on a history of the idea of empathy in historical writing and pedagogy.
Tal Shamur (Cambridge): The emergence of melancholic citizenship at the urban periphery: The case of south Tel Aviv protest against global migration
Tal Shamur presents his work on the melancholic protest of Hatikva residents. While the concept of citizenship is often related to legal status within the nation state, the actual expression of the concept is defined by one’s standing within the political community and develops questions of inclusion and belonging where spaces of citizenship extend to the city level. According to this perspective, although people may be included in the collective by law of the nation state, they may also be, in actual fact, excluded by the unwritten spatial law. This law dictates the life conditions of minorities and creates symbolic and physical boundaries that pushes “others” to the city margins where marginalized citizens and noncitizens contest their exclusions. Whereas public demonstration of discriminated citizens emerging at the urban periphery might be seen as reactionary and as a raging outbursts, closer examination reveals they are also a site of sadness and melancholy. following this line of thought, Tal Shamur will suggest the concept of “melancholic citizenship” to describe the emotion of sadness aroused among a discriminated group of citizens in light of a process that highlights their social and urban marginality. The case study explored is the struggle of old-time Mizrahi (Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab countries) residents of the HaTikva neighborhood – a lower income neighborhood of south Tel Aviv – against the inflow of African migration to the area. Based on anthropological field work he conducted in the neighborhood he argues that the struggle of the long-standing residents aroused melancholic feelings among them when they realized that the global migration is a current indication of their discrimination as lower-income Mizrahim who inhabit the city periphery and are located at the margins of Israeli society.
Tal Shamur is an ISEF Foundation International Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology, at the University of Cambridge. He wrote his PhD in Cultural Anthropology in Haifa University. His work focuses on questions of belonging and identification within the urban sphere. His Book titled: Hope and Melancholy on an Urban Frontier: Ethnicity, Space and Gender in the Hatikva Neighborhood, Tel-Aviv was recently published in Haifa University of press (2020, in Hebrew). His articles were published in the journals Emotion Space and Society (2019) and Citizenship Studies (2018).
Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies Seminar: Rose Stair (Oxford): Age and gender in German-language cultural Zionism
The fourth lecture in the Reconsidering Early Jewish Nationalist Ideologies seminar series. Rose Stair discusses cultural Zionism through a focus on age and gender. This paper examines the construction and mobilization of age categories in the German-language cultural Zionism of the turn of the 20th century. Presenting examples of texts and visual art that employ models and metaphors of different age identities, Rose Stair suggests that age functioned as a conceptual language through which the cultural Zionist community expressed their relationship to the Jewish past and Zionist future. She argues that these conceptions of age cannot be detached from the community’s assumptions about gender, meaning that even the metaphorical use of age imagery remained tethered to the social reality of family structures and bourgeois gender roles.
Rose Stair is DPhil student in the Theology and Religion faculty at the University of Oxford, and previously studied at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her doctoral research looks at age and gender in German-language cultural Zionism, and their articulation through textual and visual sources.