Lecture: Libman, Representation of the Kibbutz in 1950s Israel (SOAS, Nov 12, 2014)

SOAS Centre for Jewish Studies  


Utopia, Trauma, Icon: 

Representation of the Kibbutz in 1950s Israel


Dr. Lior Libman, UCL

Wednesday 12 November 2014 – 5.30pm

B104, Brunei Gallery, SOAS

The foundation of the State of Israel was a moment of crisis for the kibbutz: the establishment of formal state systems, Israel’s pro-Western international orientation, and the 1948 war and the refugees it created – all obligated the kibbutz to cope with deep changes and difficult conflicts. As opposed to the dynamic history of the kibbutz, the image of the kibbutz in the kibbutz’s own literature of the time remained static, replicating the patterns of representation of the pre-State era. The kibbutz was constructed as an icon – conventional and obvious, sacred and compulsively repeating itself. In the lecture, I will claim that this image is an expression of the kibbutz’s cultural-trauma in which its self-understanding in theo-political terms, as fulfilling, in everyday life, the meta-historical Zionist-Socialist repair and salvation, was radically undermined. To exemplify this argument, I will focus on Yigal Mossinson’s 1953 kibbutz novel, A Man’s Way. I will show that this novel, often considered provocative and hostile to the kibbutz, in fact, re-affirms the utopian perception of the kibbutz, in a desperate effort to recover it. This frozen image is what bore, I maintain, the actual danger for the kibbutz; its ejection from history neutralized its political potential.


All Welcome. This event is free and there is no need to book



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