This course focuses on the concept of Israel as a Jewish state and as a liberal democracy. This means that we will both be examining what is singular about Israel, and addressing concepts of the nation-state and liberal democracy more broadly. How can thinking about Israel help us think about the relationship between the nation-state and the concept and treatment of difference? Asking this question through the example of Israel will put other terms into question, including citizen, origin, genocide, value, rights, equality, individual, sovereignty and subjectivity. As we examine these concepts, we will address gender, ethnic, national, economic and linguistic difference in the contexts of Zionism, Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The aim of this course is to provide conceptual tools with which students can think critically about the concepts through which Israel is not only represented but also through which the place and the people who live there come into being in all of their materiality and affect. In particular, we will pay attention to questions of origin, representation, and how the relation between individual and group is understood. This is an interdisciplinary course, and we will be drawing on work in anthropology, feminist theory, literature, psychoanalysis, postcolonial studies, political theory, and history. We will also be reading from novels, listening to music, and watching films.