In opening this 2009 volume of Anthropology in Action, it seems important to comment on what are self-consciously interesting times. The first quarter of the year has already witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as US president, bitter and destructive bombing campaigns in Gaza, and further financial shocks in the world’s markets, with a seeming domino effect of wealthy capitalist institutions turning to national governments for support. Global and local relations, networks, identities and conflicts have been brought into sharp focus by world events, but anthropology is rarely visible in the news, and anthropologists rarely called upon to comment, despite a wealth of potentially valuable knowledge. Applications of anthropology are becoming gradually more accepted within the academy, but seem to have come only a short distance in terms of public profile or ability to influence national and trans-national policies.
Unwillingly and unwittingly, Jews have become 'icons' in Europe's new commemorative pluralist democracies. They have now set the standard for national commemoration of specific historical wrongs, for victimhood, for public visibility, for community organisation, for the right to multiple loyalties, and for a position that one can call selective national belonging; in brief, for real but also highly symbolic power. The main challenge Jews will be facing in the future will be that of making sure these 'iconic' rights are spread more globally in a setting of greater collective justice. But Jews, more than any other group, can also set the limits to too strong an identity pursuit. I believe there is an urgent need to recast a common belonging inside our respective countries and societies. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of sanctified specific identities. The time has come to move it back toward a more moderate centre. Commemoration should lead to reconciliation, overcoming of the past, and healing, not to exacerbated identities. And Jews, precisely because of their iconic quality, now hold the keys to such a swing back. Otherwise we should not be surprised if Europe's Muslims follow the Jews in the path of declared victimhood, selective belonging, even disintegration through an implicitly hostile reading of the larger society outside.
Farewell Laurie Eisenberg
Neil Caplan, The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories Review by Alan Dowty
Rachel Feldhay Brenner, The Freedom to Write: The Woman-Artist and the World in Ruth Almog’s Fiction Review by Avraham Balaban
Jackie Feldman, Above the Death Pits, Beneath the Flag: Youth Voyages to Poland and the Performance of Israeli National Identity Review by Noam Schimmel
Michael R. Fischbach, Jewish Property Claims against Arab Countries Review by Aviva Klen-Franke
Asima A. Ghazi-Bouillon, Understanding the Middle East Peace Process: Israeli Academia and the Struggle for Identity Review by Mira Sucharov
Aviva Halamish, Meir Yaari: A Collective Biography: The First Fifty Years, 1987–1947 Review by Ilan Peleg
Tamar S. Hermann, The Israeli Peace Movement: A Shattered Dream Review by Gordon Fellman
Alexandra Nocke, The Place of the Mediterranean in Modern Israeli Identity Review by Karine Hamilton
Ami Pedahzur and Arie Perliger, Jewish Terrorism in Israel Review by Eran Schor
Yaron Peleg, Israeli Culture between the Two Intifadas: A Brief Romance Review by Philip Hollander
Orit Rosin, Duty and Love: Individualism and Collectivism in 1950s Israel Review by Michael Feige
Nita Schechet, Disenthralling Ourselves: Rhetoric of Revenge and Reconciliation in Contemporary Israel Review by Eran Fisher
Amit M. Schejter, Muting Israeli Democracy: How Media and Cultural Policy Undermine Free Expression Review by Dan Caspi
Patricia J. Woods, Judicial Power and National Politics: Courts and Gender in the Religious-Secular Conflict in Israel Review by Amnon Cavari
Martin H. Geyer
Sports have always been used to promote the nation state and the invention of national traditions with national symbols such as flags and national hymns playing an important role. This article looks at the peculiar situation of the post-war period when two Germanys established themselves also in the field of sports, yet cooperated in some athletic disciplines, and, most important of all, at the Olympic Games until 1968. This raised a great number of delicate political questions, particularly the politics of the nonrecognition of the GDR which strove hard to establish itself internationally by way of the international sports movement. Konrad Adenauer and the German Sports Organization clashed on this issue which brought to the fore the question of a German and an emerging West-German identity. In order to describe this negotiation of the nation state in the realm of sports, this article tries to make fruitful use of the term postnationalism in order to understand the ambiguities of identity of Germans towards their nation state. It also takes a brief look at the Olympic Games of 1972, which epitomizes more than anything else the peculiar postnationalism of the Federal Republic.
French Discussions of French and German Politics, Culture, and Colonialism in the Deliberations of the Union for Truth, 1905–1913
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
This article explores the ways in which French intellectuals understood the changing and intersecting relationships between France and Germany, France and Alsace-Lorraine, and France and Africa during the early twentieth-century expansion of the French empire. The body of the text analyzes the interdisciplinary discussions of Paul Desjardins, Charles Gide, and their academic and activist colleagues at the Union pour la vérité (Union for Truth) and its Libres entretiens (Open Conversations) in the immediate aftermath of the First and Second Moroccan Crises. Focusing on the Union's 1905–1906 and 1912–1913 debates over the issues of nationalism, internationalism, imperialism, and colonization provides a new understanding of the relationship between French national identity and French imperial identity. The conclusion explains how and why this group of largely progressive French political analysts simultaneously rejected German expansion into France and justified French expansion across the African continent.
Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples
This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.
Responses to Travel Literatures and the Problem of Authenticity
This article compares responses to travel writing and imaginative fiction about the settler colonies, in particular Australia and New Zealand, between 1870 and 1945—a time when distinctions between travel, mobility, and emigration were hard to pin down. Very little scholarship has shown an interest in what the subject society’s inhabitants thought of its portrayal, and what this can tell us about colonial and national identities. Australasian responses to works about Australasia, in the form of published reviews, were influenced by the knowledge and particular concerns of the reviewer and their own negotiations with identity. What mattered to readers and critics was the authenticity of the portrayal of the place, but this was not only related to whether the work claimed to be fiction or non-fiction. The perceived level of familiarity that the writer had with the area was the most important factor in determining whether the reception of a work was positive or negative.
Menachem Mautner, Law and the Culture of Israel Review by Gad Barzilai
Nadav G. Shelef, Evolving Nationalism: Homeland, Identity, and Religion in Israel, 1925–2005 Review by Ilan Peleg
Susan A. Glenn and Naomi B. Sokoloff, eds., Boundaries of Jewish Identity Review by Kirsten Fermaglich
Arieh Bruce Saposnik, Becoming Hebrew: The Creation of a Jewish National Culture in Ottoman Palestine Review by Nina S. Spiegel
King Abdullah II, Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril Review by Saliba Sarsar
Leslie Stein, The Making of Modern Israel: 1948–1967 Review by Pierre M. Atlas
Joyce Dalsheim, Unsettling Gaza: Secular Liberalism, Radical Religion, and the Israeli Settlement Project Review by Myron J. Aronoff
Beverley Milton-Edwards, The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A People’s War 180 Review by Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Contextual Identities among Muslims from Western Macedonia in Everyday Practices and Narratives
Muslims have been present in the Republic of Macedonia for more than five hundred years, yet they remain constantly under discussion. Contemporary Muslims negotiate various ethnic or national identifications and differently evaluate their past. Moreover, while many Macedonian Muslims migrate to Western Europe and thus engage in transnational practices, many of them are trying to place themselves between what they conceive of as 'modern-European' and 'religious-traditional'. In this essay I present some of the everyday practices and narratives in which Muslims from the western part of the Republic of Macedonia discuss their religious identities. Based on my ethnographic fieldwork, I describe vernacular perspectives on 'Muslim identity' in relation to nationality, ethnicity, gender and local tradition, and I analyse the ways in which different modes of identifications are being performed and presented. By illustrating various contexts in which Muslim belonging is being emphasised and labelled by social actors, I envisage its symbolic meanings in perspective of local and global hegemonies.
Women, Sport, and Fox-Hunting in Britain, 1860–1914
In the years between 1860 and 1914, more women than ever pursued equestrian activities throughout Britain. A study of riding manuals for ladies shows why these pursuits became so popular and how female equestrians used sports such as fox-hunting to revise, but not reject, traditional gender roles. Well before the First World War, many British women practised and encouraged the masculine style of riding astride rather than the traditional feminine style of riding sidesaddle. As women riders worked to make this style both acceptable and respectable, they helped to redefine social roles and ideas about proper feminine behaviour which directly or indirectly contributed to the women's rights movement. In these ways, British women were able to use their participation in equestrian activities to advance strong, independent identities for themselves while also helping to create and reinforce a specifically British national identity through horse sports.