Hirsch, Dafna. “Hygiene, Dirt and the Shaping of a New Man among the Early Zionist halutzim.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 18.3 (2015): 300-18.
Personal hygiene has pride of place in two of the most important scholarly conceptualizations of the modern body: that of Norbert Elias and that of Michel Foucault. This article analyzes hygienic practices among early Zionist ideological workers – halutzim (lit. ‘pioneers’). Contrary to the image of the healthy and vigorous manual worker, physicians lamented the disregard for hygiene among the halutzim – a behavior which they attributed to the latter’s ignorance and indifference to matters of health. The halutzim, on their part, construed their hygienic misbehavior as signifying proletarization. However, a close examination of the practices of halutzim, and the meanings they attached to them, reveals a complex and contextual repertoire. As I argue through the case study of the halutzim, rather than a mere instance of discipline (Foucualt) or self-control (Elias), hygiene was a cultural repertoire which was open for appropriation and re-signification in various ways and for various purposes.