Yonatan Ratosh's “Cultural Entrepreneurship” and the Invention of “Hebrew” Nationalism

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Amotz Giladi École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) amotzgiladi@yahoo.fr

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Israeli poet Yonatan Ratosh was the leader of the Young Hebrews, a nationalist group active from the 1940s to the 1970s. Despite his opposition to Zionism and his aspiration to revive the ancient Hebrews’ premonotheistic civilization, Ratosh shared Zionism's ambition to elaborate a new Israeli identity. One prominent act of this mission involved enlarging the literary corpus in Hebrew through translation. Although initially a means of income, for Ratosh translation increasingly came to be a way to express his ideological position and his self-image as an intellectual. Thus, Ratosh provides an example of how developing a national identity can coincide with appropriating foreign literature. With his regular exhortations that Hebrew readers attain knowledge of foreign cultures, Ratosh did not intend to promote cosmopolitanism. Rather, he considered these endeavors as ultimately reinforcing a “Hebrew” identity.

Contributor Notes

Amotz Giladi received his PhD in sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris). He has a special interest in migratory intellectual trajectories, intercultural exchanges, and the relations between nationalism, transnationalism, and pan-nationalism. He is the author of numerous articles on pan-Latinism. See, for instance, “Futurism and Pan-Latin Ideology: A Contradictory Appropriation” (International Yearbook of Futurism Studies, 2018); “From Macro-Nationalism to Anti- Imperialism: Pan-Latinism in France in the Late Twentieth Century” (History: The Journal of the Historical Association 354, 2018); and “The Elaboration of Pan-Latinism in French Intellectual Circles, from the Turn of the Nineteenth Century to World War I” (Journal of Romance Studies 14, 2014). Email: amotzgiladi@yahoo.fr

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