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Archive for February, 2016

In and Out of Women’s Luggage: Narratives of Women’s Migration in Modern Hebrew Literature—by Tsila Ratner

By uclhwis, on 28 February 2016

In our jointly written book on women’s material culture in Hebrew literature of the late 19th and turn of the 20th century in Eastern Europe,[i] Hannah Naveh (Tel-Aviv University) and I studied the ways by which generic objects associated with traditional Jewish women’s trousseaus realize their potential as ‘biographical objects’. We followed the representation of the trousseaux’ contents from the epitome of the normative and generic biography of women’s passage to marriage of the time to their emergence as sites of resistance as women characters attach to them individual biographical meanings. As such they problematize the attempt to blot out the desires and aspirations of women’s life in order to ensure compliance with the controlled and prescribed mould of proper femininity according to the social-cultural norms of the period.

Based on our research and using the same underlying principles, my current discussion shifts the focus from marriage to immigration/emigration. It looks at the literary representations of the material contents of migration luggage women characters carry with them in Hebrew literature of the same period. In the context of migration these luggage objects raise issues of integration: whether they integrate seamlessly into the new home or resist integration; of identity positioning: how they position the pre-migration identities in relation to the present ones and how they position women characters in relation to the dominant public discourse; and of mobility, on which successful immigration relies.

[i]Hannah Naveh | Tsila Abramovitz Ratner, Tzena, Tzena: In and about the Dowry Box, Tel-Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2015.

About the book:

While the father of a bride-to-be should show his worth in monetary value, the girl herself needs to demonstrate her value in terms of proper femininity. And this is epitomised in the dowry objects and in the promise they hold for future married life. Just as a girl is destined to marry, and just as a woman is destined for running a proper family home, so all she does and produce is meant to set up fine dowry objects before her wedding and to expand them during marriage. Alongside reflecting on the material dowry as an expression of the woman’s compliance with a model of femininity upon which she has been brought up, this book also deliberate on the literary representation of the symbolic meaning of dowry objects as an extension of women’s identity and an expression of desires and aspirations which cannot be easily contained in the regulatory discipline. The dowry is endowed with the girl/woman’s energies which generate products and representations of their identity, and these energies might initiate a process that escapes commodification and represents an individuality that shuns subjugation. As such the dowry facilitates thinking of possible frictions between the prescribed meaning of its objects and their personal meaning for the woman who owns them, produces them and uses them in the everyday of her marriage. The dowry and its objects are therefore extended tools to achieve, preserve and constantly verify a performativity of proper femininity. At the same time they are also an opportunity of personal expression which might prove to be problematic in the social framework of marriage.




The Limits of Refusal: Israel, Lebanon, and the Shadow of 1982—by Seth Anziska

By uclhwis, on 5 February 2016

Abstract: In revisiting an incident of refusal over the Mediterranean during Israel’s 1982 Lebanon War, my paper will piece together archives, interviews and memories between Jaffa and Beirut to explore how both Israeli and Lebanese society grapple with the legacy of extreme political violence. Drawing on a collaboration with the former Israeli air force pilot Hagai Tamir and the Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari for the 2013 Venice Biennale, my presentation investigates the possibility and limitations of historical research across national borders in the post-1948 Middle East.

Bio: Seth Anziska is a Lecturer in Jewish-Muslim relations at UCL. His research and teaching interests include Israeli and Palestinian society and culture, modern Middle Eastern history, and contemporary Arab and Jewish politics. He received his PhD in International and Global History from Columbia University (2015) and his M. Phil. in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St. Antony’s College, Oxford (2008). Seth is currently working on a book manuscript, provisionally entitled, “Camp David’s Shadow: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Question.” It examines the emergence of the 1978 Camp David Accords and the consequences of international diplomacy in circumscribing Palestinian self-determination. Recent publications include “The Consequences of Conflict Management in Israel/Palestine,” co-written with Tareq Baconi (NOREF Report: January 2016); and “Autonomy as State Prevention: The Palestinian Question after Camp David, 1978-1982,” Humanity, Special Issue on Transformative Occupation in the Middle East [forthcoming].

Further Reading: Seth Anziska “The Slow Repair of a Historical Rupture.” Ibraaz, Critical Forum on Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa, July 2013 (http://www.ibraaz.org/interviews/89); Sune Haugbolle, War and Memory in Lebanon (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Asher Kaufmann, “Forgetting the Lebanon War? On Silence, Denial, and the Selective Remembrance of the “First” Lebanon War, in Efrat Ben-Ze’ev, Ruth Ginio and Jay Winter (eds.), Shadows of War: A Social History of Silence in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Yaari, Israel’s Lebanon War  (London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1986); Akram Zaatrari, An Imagined Conversation with an Israeli Filmmaker Named Avi Mograbi (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012); Eyal Zisser, “The 1982 “Peace for Galilee War: Looking Back in Anger—Between an Option of a War and a War of No Option,” in Mordechai Bar-On (ed.), A Never-Ending Conflict: A Guide to Israeli Military History (Westport: Praeger, 2004).