CFP: Israel in the Middle East

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Call for Papers for a Workshop:

“I’m in the East and my Heart is in the West: Israel in the Middle East”
University of Calgary (Canada), 3-5 October, 2010

Since independence, Israel lives in two worlds: while geographically it is in the Middle East, from almost any other aspect it identifies itself with the west. Jewish immigration from East and Central Europe decided the western social, cultural and political characteristic of the pre-state Yishuv, which remained dominant also in the first years of the nascent state. However, throughout the years, more and more voices challenged Israel’s affiliation with the west, calling to find ways to integrate it into the Middle East. The hegemonic European features of Israel gave way to other voices and tunes. Some even challenge the very idea of Israel as a Jewish state, ostensibly the greater achievement of the Zionist movement- the national movement which was part of the 19th century European national resurrection.

The Israel Studies Program at the University of Calgary is organizing an international workshop that will be dedicated to the study of Israel and its place in the Middle East. Our intention is to bring together scholars from various disciplines to explore the various facets of the topic. The discussions, that will last two days, will evolve around questions and issues such as:

  • What does it mean for Israel to be a Western State?
  • What do the calls for the assimilation of Israel in the Middle East mean?
  • How do the ethnic divides (Jews- Arabs, Ashkenazim- Sephardim) influence the very nature of Israel and its assimilation either with the East or the West?
  • What is in the Mediterranean option for Israel?
  • What is the impact of the turn from a mono- to multi-cultural society on Israel’s orientation?
  • Can Israel be a Western and a Middle Eastern state at the same time?

We invite proposals for papers discussing those and other related issues from historians, literary scholars, political scientists, sociologists, cultural studies scholars as well as from scholars in related disciplines. Please send abstracts of your proposed paper (400-500 words) and short curriculum vitae (one page) to Dr. David Tal, Kahanoff Chair in Israel Studies, at:

The deadline for submission of abstracts is March 1, 2010.

We will provide funding for travel and accommodation to invited speakers.

Our intention is to publish an edited book based on the conference papers. Those accepted are expected to send their papers by July 30, 2010. After the conference, the participants are expected to send their papers in the form of an academic article by December 1, 2010. The articles will be sent to referees.

Expected publication: Summer 2011.

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