New Article: Gamliel, The Lasting Hegemony in Israeli Theatre

Gamliel, Tova. “Ghosts and Habitus: The Lasting Hegemony in Israeli Theatre.” Ethnography (early view; online first).




The article asks why the Israeli theatre’s ‘voicing hegemony’ practices endure despite a critical public debate that favors cultural pluralism. Ethnographies at two central repertory theatres elicit the meanings of the theatre’s ‘back-to-the past’ institutional habitus, as revealed in observations and in-depth interviews with actors, and disclose artistic dispositions that bolster veteran actors’ stature in the theatre and Israeli art generally. Analysis of the findings links professional capital with the twilight of an artist’s theatrical career. One conclusion connects the theatrical habitus with justification of Israel’s Zionist ideology. Theoretically, the article illuminates the historical component of the Bourdieuian concept of habitus. The duplication of this component in the back-to-the-past habitus inheres to mythification processes and makes the theatrical habitus relatively resilient to social changes.



New Book: Feldman, A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land

Feldman, Jackie. A Jewish Guide in the Holy Land. How Christian Pilgrims Made Me Israeli. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016.



For many Evangelical Christians, a trip to the Holy Land is an integral part of practicing their faith. Arriving in groups, most of these pilgrims are guided by Jewish Israeli tour guides. For more than three decades, Jackie Feldman—born into an Orthodox Jewish family in New York, now an Israeli citizen, scholar, and licensed guide—has been leading tours, interpreting Biblical landscapes, and fielding questions about religion and current politics. In this book, he draws on pilgrimage and tourism studies, his own experiences, and interviews with other guides, Palestinian drivers and travel agents, and Christian pastors to examine the complex interactions through which guides and tourists “co-produce” the Bible Land. He uncovers the implicit politics of travel brochures and religious souvenirs. Feldman asks what it means when Jewish-Israeli guides get caught up in their own performances or participate in Christian rituals, and reflects on how his interactions with Christian tourists have changed his understanding of himself and his views of religion.


Table of Contents

  • 1. How Guiding Christians Made Me Israeli
  • 2. Guided Holy Land Pilgrimage—Sharing the Road
  • 3. Opening Their Eyes: Performance of a Shared Protestant-Israeli Bible Land
  • 4. Christianizing the Conflict: Bethlehem and the Separation Wall
  • 5. The Goods of Pilgrimage: Tips, Souvenirs, and the Moralities of Exchange
  • 6. The Seductions of Guiding Christians
  • 7. Conclusions: Pilgrimage, Performance, and the Suspension of Disbelief


JACKIE FELDMAN a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is author of Above the Death Pits, Beneath the Flag: Youth Voyages to Poland and the Performance of Israeli National Identity. He has been a licensed tour guide in Jerusalem for over three decades.




New Article: Harari, Performing the Un-Chosen Israeli Body

Harari, Dror. “Performing the Un-Chosen Israeli Body: Nataly Zukerman’s Haguf Ha’acher.” TDR 60.1 (2016): 157-64.

Nataly Zukerman “comes out” in this autobiographical performance piece, exposing to the public eye the “invisibility” of her limp; an invisibility imposed on her by a society that insists on downplaying her disability in an attempt to normalize her. Her “other body” is set against not only the universally fabricated image of the privileged able body but also, quite specifically, the idealized, physically fit, heroic Israeli body.




New Article: Kachtan, Performance of Ethnicity and the Process of Ethnicization

Kachtan, Dana Grosswirth. “‘Acting Ethnic’—Performance of Ethnicity and the Process of Ethnicization.” Ethnicities (early view; online first).





This paper examines the process of “acting ethnic”, and demonstrates that, in certain circumstances, people act in keeping with an ethnic identity. Based on a study of two infantry brigades in the Israeli army (the IDF), the paper shows how organizational ethnic culture forms the basis of the process of “acting ethnic”. This paper highlights the tendency in certain situations to suspend nonethnic privileges by adopting an ethnic identity and in addition, to exaggerate ethnic performance. Moreover, it is argued that “acting ethnic” is a collective performance, aimed not only at belonging to the group, but also as a means of maintaining and reproducing ethnic identity and asserting a legitimate alternative to the hegemonic identity.





New Article: Heyd, Agnon on the Theater

Heyd, David. “‘The House which Householders Attend’: Agnon on the Theater.” Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature 27 (2014): 185ff (in Hebrew).




In contrast to other forms of art, the theater occupies only a marginal place in Agnon’s oeuvre, as does the subject in the research literature on Agnon. However, in A Guest for the Night and in In Mr. Lublin’s Shop Agnon expresses an interesting, ironic and deep view of the theater. He joins the long philosophical tradition – from Plato to Rousseau – of critiquing the theater in terms of representation. In this view, theatrical representation is one-dimensional and shallow in articulating the relationship between reality and fiction. In contrast to the stage actors who pathetically try to represent reality and in contrast to the smug bourgeois spectators who indulge in identifying themselves on stage, the implied author (Agnon’s narrator) lives in both worlds of reality and fiction and hence can convey the artistic truth. This unique dual position is reminiscent of the position of the protagonist/narrator in A Guest for the Night who experiences both the Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora worlds. In Mr. Lublin’s Shop the theater lacks any real cathartic value, particularly when compared to the puppet theater. Following Kleist, Agnon demonstrates the power of the marionette to express beauty and grace due exactly to its non-representational immediacy. It is exempt from the deceptive character and from the moral and social defects from which the traditional theater suffers. In both novels, the critique of the theater enables Agnon to articulate his aesthetic views for himself and for his readers, clarifying the relationship between his culturally split life and his choice of artistic modes of expression.

הד, דוד. “בית שבעלי בתים באים לשם’: עגנון על התאטרון”. מחקרי ירושלים בספרות עברית כז (2014): 185 ואילך.

Cite: Liebelt, Filipina Care Workers’ Aesthetic Formations in Israel

Liebelt, Claudia. "Consuming Pork, Parading the Virgin and Crafting Origami in Tel Aviv: Filipina Care Workers’ Aesthetic Formations in Israel." Ethnos – Online first, 25 pp.



This article investigates the sensual participation of Filipina care workers in Israel, more specifically in the urban space of Tel Aviv. By creating a rich communal life, by parading icons of the Virgin Mary through the streets, and by crafting Origami paper swans that have conquered urban spaces in all sizes, shapes and colours, migrants have fashioned modes of aesthetic and sensual belonging in the city. Their popular aesthetics, I argue, is intricately linked to the ironic Americanisation of a post-colonial nation, as well as the gendered niche of care, which Filipinos in the global economy have come to occupy. Drawing on the concept of ‘aesthetic formation’, this article foregrounds the performative aspects and centrality of objects, appearances and the senses in migrants’ making of community. Filipinos’ aesthetic formations in diaspora speak of collective struggles as well as of the emergence of new subjectivities beyond ethnic or cultural identities.

Cite: Hermoni and Lebel, Politicizing Memory

Hermoni, Gal and Udi Lebel. “Politicizing Memory.” Cultural Studies 26.4 (2012): 469-491.





This paper argues that hegemonic memorial ceremonies are typically based on the practice and discourse of de-politicization of the `Israeli condition’. Three mechanisms serve such de-politicization: rendering death meaningful; idealizing the fallen and focusing on their transcendental as opposed to their corporeal side and the sanctification of time. Ceremonies featuring these mechanisms are paradigmatic events that perpetuate the hegemonic model of bereavement in Israel. Ceremonies deviating from these practices function as an opposition to static collective memory by acting as extra-paradigmatic sites of memory (Lieux de mémoire). This paper analyzes the Hallal (Hebrew for both `fallen’ and `void’) ceremony (Tzavta Theatre, Tel Aviv, 2009), that serves as an `alternative’ Remembrance Day ceremony. Drawing on the ethnography of ceremonies, we claim that this ceremony is an extra-paradigmatic event on account of its subversion of the de-politicizing mechanisms.

Cite: St John, Vibe Tribes, Sampledelic Outlaws and Israeli Psytrance

St John, Graham. “Freak Media: Vibe Tribes, Sampledelic Outlaws and Israeli Psytrance.” Continuum 26.3 (2012): 437-447.





As an electronic dance music movement, for over 20 years, psytrance (psychedelic trance) has been a context by which sonic, visual, pharmacological and virtual media have facilitated the expression of interwoven narratives, experimental modes of performance, and the experience of intense sociality in scenes the world-over. A key theme adopted within this movement is the ‘tribe’, the discourse around which is multivalent, though here I focus on the transgressive dimensions of psytrance to which one is attached as a member of a tribe apart. The article provides detailed examination of the outlaw figure and sensibility in psytrance, illustrating how cultural producers – e.g. DJ-producers, label owners, scene writers, event management – facilitate the party vibe, and a distinct ‘psychedelic. or ‘freak’ identity via this trope. Among the chief icons of performance, prestige and tribalism sampled within psytrance music and culture, the outlaw is adapted from popular cultural sources (especially cinema) and redeployed as a means of dissolving and performing difference. The exploration of the outlaw conceit in what I call nano-media amplified by the producers of psytrance music illustrates how a psychedelic fiction is generated. Specific, although not exclusive, attention is given to Israeli producers, which offers comment on psytrance in Israel where this music is considered popular.