This paper deploys the haptic, and more broadly speaking, notions of multisensory reading and spectatorship to reconfigure perceptions of home. It explores configurations of home in the practice of the late French-Israeli visual artist, Absalon, to draw tropes of “complicity” and “contagion” into an intersection with discourses of moral hygiene arising from the modernist preoccupation with denuded surface in the history of architecture. It then goes on to read a postapartheid South African text, Lauren Beukes’s Zoo city (2010), through the lens of these concerns. Beukes’s text, it claims, can be made to precipitate the historicity of the white suburban home under apartheid. The novel offers alternative iterations of domesticity, however, as metonymies of contagion shift into metonymies of conviviality. The final section of the paper investigates the vulnerability of the home against the background of the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza and its assault on the built environment. It explores an art exhibition, Postcards for Gaza, staged by the dissident Israeli organization, Zochrot, in the context of a previous military assault on Gaza in 2008. Here the reworking of photographic surface is made to gesture towards the possibility of political reparation in an alternate modality of complicity that Mark Sanders parses as “human-foldedness” (Sanders 2002).
This article examines a strategy of peace activism that gained visibility in the last decades: memory activism. Memory activists manifest a temporal shift in transnational politics: first the past, then the future. Affiliated with the globally-circulating paradigm of historical justice, memory activist groups assume that a new understanding of the past could lead to a new perception of present problems and project alternative solutions for the future. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and discourse analysis among memory activists of the 1948 war in Israel since 2001, the article examines the activist production of counter-memory during active conflict. Using Coy et al.’s typology of oppositional knowledge-production, the article shows how the largest group of memory activism in Israel produced ‘new’ information on the war, critically assessed the dominant historical narrative, offered an alternative shared narrative, and began to envision practical solutions for Palestinian refugees. However, the analysis raises additional concerns that reach beyond the scope of the typology, primarily regarding the unequal power relations that exist not only between the dominant and activist production of oppositional knowledge, but also among activists.
Haifa developed from a small Arab town in the late Ottoman period into a Jewish-Arab urban centre in British Palestine. Today it is a Jewish city with a small Arab minority. In April 1948, following the Jewish conquest of the city, most of its Arab population fled. Israel’s Zionist leadership took advantage of their flight and decided to demolish much of the old city, founded in 1761 by the Arab ruler of the Galilee, Daher el-Omar. In 2011, the municipality of the City of Haifa, as well as the majority of the city’s Jewish population, all but ignored Haifa’s 250th anniversary. The article critically discusses and contextualises the official, Zionist memory of the city’s past and explores alternative Jewish attempts to commemorate Haifa’s Arab heritage.