CfP: Graduate conference at Cambridge, Patterns of Protest in Hebrew Culture

Call for Papers

Patterns of Protest in Hebrew Culture: Memory, Agents and Representation

2014 Cambridge Graduate Conference in Modern Hebrew

We would like to invite graduate students from within or without Hebrew Studies, as well as academics, artists and other interested parties to submit proposals for the Cambridge Hebrew Graduate Conference 2014, “Patterns of Protest in Hebrew Culture: Memory, Agents and Representation,” to be held on Tuesday 6 May 2014 at Cambridge. The conference aims to facilitate and promote discussion in the field of Modern Hebrew Studies, stimulating scholarship in the UK academy and bringing it into conversation with academics from around the world.

Recent waves of political protest in the Middle East have drawn critical focus to tensions regarding the future of societies and communities in the region and to the clash of worldviews and visions. Protest and the changes it brings are difficult phenomena to measure, and we tend to understand them mainly through examining political systems and the actions of leaders. In this conference we wish to promote a different debate by taking focus away from speeches in Parliament and statements to the media and aiming it toward the dynamics of culture.

2011’s wave of social protest in Israel caught many by surprise, as hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand social justice, a lower cost of living and a government response to the concerns of the middle class. Although the social justice movement challenged 21st century Israeli neo-liberalism, it often did so by employing the rhetoric of a diverse tradition of Hebrew texts, from Amir Gilboa’s poetry to the words of the Hebrew Bible.

The link between Hebrew texts and political and social protest is as ancient as the books of the prophets. Throughout history, Hebrew writers have articulated the prohibited and the revolutionary, in advance – and in advancement – of wider public acceptance. What part, then, has protest played in shaping Hebrew culture, throughout its history and in the present?

The purpose of this conference is to bring together young scholars from different disciplines to investigate the historical and cultural significance of Hebrew as a language of protest, and the forms of expression of protest and protest movements – topics surprisingly unexplored by academia. We welcome contributions that consider this theme from diverse theoretical perspectives and academic disciplines. We particularly welcome papers that examine the complimentarity and tensions between political dissent and Hebrew literary production – how is protest rendered intelligible in ways that serve to contain or depoliticize struggles? How has Hebrew, the language of tradition, served these modes of dissent as a means of reclaiming agency in the face of existing power structures? And how, in contemporary Israel, is Hebrew protested against as the language of power?

Participants will be invited to present their work as part of themed panels, followed by questions and discussion with Cambridge students, academics and fellow conference attendees.

Abstracts of 300-500 words are requested by 1 February 2014, with accepted papers to follow in full by March. Please submit abstracts, along with a brief academic C.V, to chgc2014@gmail.com. Any further queries may be sent to the same address.

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