Secularization and Religion, Ethnicity and Nationalism in Hebrew Culture

For years, modern Hebrew culture was conceived as a secular arena, that is, as one that does not merely reflect a secular Zionist ethos, but also engenders it. In fact, the hegemonic scholarly discourse of Hebrew culture assumed a direct link between nationalism and secularization, between the removal of the fetters of the old religion and the creation of a new Jewish culture that could be properly called “national.” 

The last couple of decades have seen a growing challenges to this scheme and a re-reading of the relationship between secularization and nationalism. On the one hand, different voices and communities that had been marginalized and even excluded from the dominant Israeli national discourse began demanding a place in it, and started producing literature, cinema and art to reflect their cultural, political and theological worlds within that discourse. On the other hand, scholars of nationalism began to revalue the conceived dichotomy between religion and nationalism as well as to reexamine the relationship between ethnicity and nationalism. Within the study of Hebrew culture, a growing number of scholars endeavor to join it to this scholarly trend.

These scholarly and cultural turns raise interesting and complicated questions that we would like to examine in the workshop. 

The workshop will bring together young Israeli and American scholars, alongside scholars to study together these issues.  To initiate the discussion, to contextualize Hebrew literature within its region, and to broaden the horizon of our discussion, we will have a panel of scholars from Duke and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who work on similar themes in other cultures of the Middle East and North Africa; whereas links between Hebrew culture and European cultures are often underscored, little has been written on such links between Hebrew-Israeli culture and the cultures of the ME in this respect, and so such a panel would be of particular importance.

Together we will seek to chart the boundaries of the scholarly discourse and the potential it holds for discussion questions that arise from the loaded interaction between secularization, religion, ethnicity and nationalism.

The workshop is co-sponsored by Sapir College, Israel; Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel; and the following centers and departments at Duke University: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute; Duke University Middle East Studies Center; the Duke-UNC Middle East Consortium; and Duke University Center for International Studies.

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When
Sun, 04/15/2012 to Tue, 04/17/2012
Where
Duke University
Sponsor(s)

The workshop is co-sponsored by Sapir College, Israel; Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel; and the following centers and departments at Duke University: Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute; Duke University Middle East Studies Center; the Duke-UNC Middle East Consortium; and Duke University Center for International Studies.