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.
To conclude let us step back and look at the effects of all of these transformation narratives together. These and other novels and films engage in a sustained reusing of the past and successfully transform the way people articulate their identity. They do this with an empathic retelling of the national story like Oz, with the German or Arab Israeli other as in the film Walk on Water and Arab Labor, or with a crazed narrator like Kaniuk’s and Castel-Bloom’s. Therapeutic interventions end with a working through of displacement and immigration, a heightened awareness of the effects of the Holocaust, and a new appreciation of the creative potential of Jewish identity and culture. Self-critical satire breaks open a monolithic national identity, exposing its constructed nature and calls for creative transformations. We can now ask why these two narratives are so central to the way literature and film re-imagine national identity in contemporary times. I think that the answer lies most prominently in globalization. International flows of culture, goods, and people help strengthen civil society in its critique and parody of state violence and state agents. Somewhat paradoxically, globalization also leads to a demand for specifically national narratives in the international market. In a recent talk, Salman Rushdie pointed out that contemporary writers are increasingly asked to mediate the story of a nation for an international audience. Indeed that is what his own Midnight’s Children did for India, what J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace did for South Africa, Toni Morrison’s novels for the U.S., and Oz and Grossman for Israel. Thus we get narratives that are called to represent the nation on an international market but heal, critique, or poke fun at it at the same time. The system in which Hebrew literature finds itself has radically changed. Previously this system or field was constructed as a national field; now the field is constituted as semi-global. Some actors achieve international success while others remain domestic. Some mediate and explain the national story on the global stage while others parody the nation in order to change it.
Israeli national-cultural discourse is not a sole expression of some underlying economic forces that determine its content. However, its expression is a result of creative adaptation to economical and political pressures and opportunities that have become more and more global. Mainstream literature and culture has responded by articulating narratives that simultaneously reflect feelings of lack of political agency and an empathic apologetic self-representation for the global other. Minor literature in Israel saw an opportunity in the weakening of the state to articulate a critique in the form of parody that attempts to reconfigure national identity.
This article discusses the properties of ‘quality television’ as constructed within the field of television production. It does so by analyzing the discourse of television creators and critics in two countries, Israel and Flanders, taking a theoretical approach based in part on Bourdieusian theory. Most academic work about ‘quality television’ concentrates on Anglo-American television drama series. In this paper we offer a different perspective by focusing on two small but prosperous television markets outside of the Anglo-American world. Our findings suggest that the quality discourse in both countries contains autonomous-artistic alongside heteronomous-capitalist ideological elements, apparently under the influence of the Anglo-American discourse of quality. Our findings also suggest that both ideological elements contribute to the cultural legitimation of the television drama series in both countries, though the capitalist discourse plays a more evident role among creators than among critics. Finally, we also discuss the differences between the Flemish and the Israeli discourses of ‘quality television.’
The current study focuses on the social construction of definitions of quality in the field of the television drama series in Israel. By doing that, this work challenges Pierre Bourdieu’s claim that since artifacts of ‘popular culture’ industries are not regarded as ‘autonomous’, according to the autonomy-of-art ideology, they cannot be consecrated as works of art. Bourdieu’s thesis was challenged before, but the television field has not yet been extensively studied from this point of view. My study of the broad empirical corpus, including television reviews and interviews with acclaimed Israeli television creators, reveals that artistic quality and commercial appeal show less tension than Bourdieu had suggested. Furthermore, my findings indicate that the autonomy-of-art ideology can be reconfigured to accommodate commercial (e.g. capitalist) considerations. Within this reconfiguration, the ‘quality’ television series can be redefined to include elements of ‘autonomous’ art, such as authenticity, innovation and the input of ‘genius’ creators, alongside such capitalist requirements as profitability.
Over the past decade, a new and intriguing phenomenon developed in Israel: close to 60,000 Israelis applied for citizenship in the Central and Eastern European countries from which their families immigrated. Typically, these new dual citizens have no plans to “return” to Germany or Poland, nor do they feel any identification with their countries of origin. Instead, they are mainly interested in obtaining a “European Union passport” and in gaining potential access to the European common market. The paper presents statistics on this unconventional case of dual citizenship, surveys the historical and legal circumstances that produced it and uses material from interviews to explore the meanings and uses that European-Israeli dual citizens attribute to their European passports. Dual citizenship, the findings show, is used by Israelis in various and sometimes unexpected ways: as enhancer of economic opportunities, “insurance policy,” intergenerational gift, and even as an elitist status symbol. This modality of state belonging can be termed “passport citizenship”: Non-resident citizenship here is stripped of its national meaning and treated as an individual piece of property, which is embodied by the passport and obtained for pragmatic reasons.