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Lena Saleh and Mira Sucharov

Drawing from the authors’ experience teaching op-ed writing across a variety of subjects as well as teaching Israeli-Palestinian relations using a range of methods, this article describes the benefits of using op-ed writing assignments in an Israel-Palestine course. The authors demonstrate the value of showing students how to develop concise, research-based prescriptive arguments that can complement what is often an explanatory-only approach to understanding Israeli-Palestinian relations. The article lays out the challenges and opportunities of helping students master a public commentary form that is becoming increasingly central in the digital age.

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Mor Cohen

The 2011 Israeli protest for social justice marked a change in the responses of Israeli citizens to political and social matters. The ways in which art and social change intersected during the protest, and the emer- gence of art collectives following the events, call for an understanding of the relation between art and politics in Israel. This article suggests an alternative reading of socially engaged art in Israel. To this end, I use Félix Guattari’s notion of ‘transversality’ and Jacques Rancière’s theory on the ‘aesthetic regime’ to highlight signi cant periods where art and politics have intersected in ways that have challenged Israeli art historiography, often neutralizing the political within an artwork. By using a theoreti- cal framework that emphasizes notions of hybridity and the blurring of boundaries, I make new connections between times, places, and practices that go beyond the binaries of center and periphery, mainstream and alter- native, and aesthetics and politics.

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Rosalie Stolz

A general conundrum for the Khmu of northern Laos is the persistent unknowability of spirits. The locals gauge the potency of spirits by keeping track of spirit stories. Spirit narratives can be conceived of as transient traces of intangible spirit phenomena, as will be exemplified by the story of a young man’s spirit affliction. Sharing and silencing spirit stories are a means of determining the strength of spirits, as well as an efficacious way to evoke them. Using works that embark from the fragmentary and experiential character of animist cosmologies, it will be shown that approaching spirit stories as traces of spirits will be a suitable way to address the perspectives of those who navigate a world that is not inhabited by humans alone.

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Rebranding Desolation

The Allure of Israel’s Desert Landscapes

Amelia Rosenberg Weinreb

This article explores the trope of desert desolation in the Zionist state-building project. It traces the strategic uses of desolate imagery in the pioneer narrative (1880s–1920s), by the New Hebrew culture (1923–1948), during the ‘golden age’ of urban and regional planning (1948–1956), and through marketing the Negev desert town of Mitzpe Ramon to tourists (1993–present). These eras highlight the tension between desolation as reflecting the alienated ‘outsiders’ gaze’ versus desolation as energizing and inspiring place making. I argue that since unproductive, desolate landscapes pose an economic threat, both Israel’s collectivist and capitalist settlement projects have confronted the challenge of strategically rebranding desolation to promote its allure.

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Intertwined Landscape

The Integration of Arabo-Islamic Culture in Pre-state Palestine

Mostafa Hussein

This article examines the ways in which Zionist intellectuals interacted with Arabo-Islamic culture in the Yishuv by looking into the cultivation of Islamicate knowledge pertinent to land and nature and its impact on the construction of the Jewish cultural landscape. I argue that in establishing a connection between Jews and the natural landscape of Palestine/ Israel, Jewish intellectuals relied on Arabo Islamic culture and its centuries of knowledge about the flora and the land itself. In their search to comprehend the flora and place names of the land of the Bible, Jewish individuals consulted Arabo-Islamic sources, finding them instrumental to their national enterprise. The culmination of these endeavors is that, in addition to Jewish and Western sources, Islamicate culture was one of the wellsprings from which Jewish intellectuals drew in shaping the emergent culture in the Yishuv and the early decades of the State of Israel.

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Inside and Outside the Law

Negotiated Being and Urban Jouissance in the Streets of Beirut

Ghassan Hage

In this article I begin by noting a certain jouissance in Beiruti urban culture that co-exists with an ongoing history of intercommunal conflict and the failure of centralized planning. I then examine the irreverent celebration of this ‘outside-the-law’ culture by a group of middle-class immigrants who have returned to Beirut to enjoy its free spaces. I argue that these outside-the-law spaces are characterized by a particular form of sociality that I define as ‘negotiated being’. It is a dyadic and horizontal relation typified by a permanent state of relating and being attuned to the other without involving the law as a mediating third party. This makes for a more particularist and libidinal sociality that explains the forms of jouissance emanating from it.

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Lia Friesem

More than other collective memories, the Holocaust is the most vivid memory in today’s Israeli existence. As a result of comprehensive official and unofficial memory work that utilizes the Holocaust as a political and educational tool, on the one hand, and due to the advent of the new media, on the other, its grip on everyday Israeli reality is only growing stronger. As part of a broader research project focusing on resistive cultural activity on Israeli Twitter, this article makes visible the striking omnipresence of the Holocaust on this social network, while maintaining that many of the ‘Holocaust tweets’ constitute an act of resistance. That is, users are engaged in oppositional decoding in a battle against the hegemonic Holocaust discourse.

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Hebrew Literature in the ‘World Republic of Letters’

Translation and Reception, 1918–2018

Yael Halevi-Wise and Madeleine Gottesman

This article charts the international reception of modern Hebrew literature over the last hundred years. It brings large-scale data on the translation of Hebrew literature into conversation with current studies on the dissemination of ‘small’ languages around the world. We pay special attention to publishing trends, genres, literary awards, and other indicators of international recognition. More broadly, we question the scope and definition of a body of literature whose ancient traces have become invisible through translation and whose international readership includes, to some extent, members of its ‘own’ nation who do not share, however, the same language, territory, or cultural experiences. Our goal is to provide a more nuanced understanding of the presence of Hebrew literature beyond its national borders.

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Hebrew Dystopias

From National Catastrophes to Ecological Disasters

Netta Bar Yosef-Paz

This article examines contemporary Hebrew dystopic novels in which ecological issues play a critical role, reflecting an increasing preoccupation of Israeli culture and society with the environment. The literary turn to dystopia is not new, but whereas Israeli dystopias published in the 1980s–1990s focused mainly on military apocalyptic visions, current novels combine these national anxieties with ecological dangers, following present-day trends in American literature and cinema. These contemporary dystopias either conjoin a national crises with an ecological disaster as the source of the catastrophe or represent environmental recklessness as evidence of moral corruption, linking ecological and social injustice to the emergence of a Jewish theocracy. Offering an ecocritical reading of these novels, the article pinpoints the American cultural influence on the narratives. This thematic shift in Hebrew fiction, I argue, reflects a rising environmental awareness and positions literature as a major arena in which these issues are raised.

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Grounding Rights

Populist and Peasant Conceptions of Entitlement in Rural Nicaragua

David Cooper

Since the Sandinistas returned to power in Nicaragua in 2007, ideas about rights have been central to the governing party’s populist project. The rights in question are understood to require the production of ‘organized’ citizens who become integrated into the mechanisms of popular governance. But for rural Sandinistas who participated in the revolutionary agrarian reform of the 1980s, rights are about land. For some, realizing rights has required disentangling themselves from local organs of organized life, resulting in their exclusion from the government’s populist model of rights. Contending ideas about how to legitimately ground the rights that result—and the effort of these excluded Sandinistas to make revolutionary ‘struggle’ the basis of entitlements— trouble a standard anthropological model that views abstract rights as subsequently particularized in practice.