• Erotics of the Exotic: Orientalism and Fictionalization of the Mooress in the Early Modern Mediterranean

    The representation of women in the realm of Islam in early modern Spanish literary, religious, historical, and political texts provides a very significant key to the perception of the “Other” in Spain. These women were categorized according to their radically different circumstances: in Spain they were Moriscas (where they were the objects of an internal colonization), but in the Ottoman Empire (which was seen as a threat to Christian Europe) they were Moras and Turcas. Muslim women were systematically portrayed as highly sexualized subjects, sometimes in combination with the mystified harem and the slave market. In a tone ranging from contempt and disgust to ravishing desire, Muslim women were depicted as sensual and sexually accessible creatures. This Occidental fantasy was a means of establishing an imaginary domain over a powerful rival. Such representations of women were themselves essentially Orientalist, even when they occurred prior to the colonial and postcolonial relationship between the West and the Orient, suggesting that Orientalism itself ought not to be exclusively linked with colonialism and postcolonialism.

  • Renegades as Crossover Figures: Forgers of the Early Modern Mediterranean

    The early modern Mediterranean world would be incomprehensible without taking into account the key roles of the so-called renegades—converts to Islam—who were far more numerous than converts to Christianity. Since renegades rarely wrote or spoke about themselves except under inquisitorial interrogation, and since most texts of the period portrayed them with hostility, the widest range of sources and discursive genres (including literary) in many languages needs to be examined in order to get some sense of who they were. As frontier protagonists, renegades articulated the cultural and religious divide within the Mediterranean. Models proposing split personalities, antagonistic civilizations, or religious discord have done little to resolve the enigma posed by the renegades in all their heterogeneity. This article questions the emphasis on belief and “sincerity” that has always dominated the discussion of renegades, stressing instead their pragmatism, strategic orientation, and acquired capabilities.

  • Just Like Democracy: Ethnography of Realpolitik in a City of Immigrants

    The goal of this paper is to open a new space for understanding political culture “after orientalism,” in polycultural, liberal societies. Relying on three years of ethnographic research (2001–04) at the Likud party chapter in the immigrant city of Ashdod, I present an ethnography of citizenship in action. I argue that at the point where citizenship as an ideal type meets immigrants from developing countries, people mimic and utilize citizenship as a way to support their social mobility. Ideology becomes ID-ology and stands in the center of a new political culture that is neither Occidental nor Oriental.
    This new culture of citizenship is formed in three stages: first, the immigrants adopt and approve the Occidental perception of citizenship that fits the Occidental imagination of citizenship; second, the Likud party members distinguish between form and content, loading the “appropriate” definition of citizenship with new content and new ways of interpretation that promote their purpose of socially mobilizing themselves and taking over positions of power; and third, new political cultures of citizenship occupy the city hall. The new citizenship resembles Occidental citizenship, but uses a different toolbox for power accumulation and new methods of interpretation.

  • Back to the Future: The Jerusalem Exhibit at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair

    The famous St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904 was a vast celebration of the new century and its promise of a future governed by technological and scientific progress. It is not often remembered that in the heart of this paean to modernity stood an enormous and astonishingly life-like replica of the Old City of Jerusalem. Evoking the past rather than the future and transcendence rather than materiality, what was Jerusalem doing in the St. Louis Fair? How did its presence challenge, complicate, or legitimize the popular narratives of modernization with which it was surrounded? Through a description of the fair and the replica—and contra theories that continue to adhere to the secularization thesis and its structuring binaries—this essay is an examination of the preservation and deployment of religious themes and symbols within modernity.

  • A Chosen Republic: Rome, Jerusalem, and the “Mediterranean Synthesis” in American History

    This article traces the ethos of the United States to a Mediterranean setting. Founded as a Roman-like republic, the country has also understood itself as a “second Israel” throughout its history. This combination has proved itself to be anything but problem free: while Americans wished to become republicans according to the Roman model, they could not ignore Rome’s corruption and decline. On the other hand, if they were to be the new Israel, what did it mean to be a God-chosen republic?

    One way to make sense of this tension is by better understanding a “Mediterranean Synthesis” in American history. If Rome excited Americans but also demonstrated that a republic would necessarily become corrupt, Jerusalem promised that the American Rome could escape the historical pitfalls that ensnared republics for millennia. Americans thus made sense of the meaning of their national experience in light of two ancient Mediterranean entities, a classical polity and a biblical nation, hence becoming a chosen republic. The outcome was Americans’ paradoxical ability to perceive theirs as an exceptional polity, one that would not necessarily follow the universal rules of history.

  • The Forces of Presence and Absence : Aspects of Palestinian Identity Transformation in Israel between 1967 and 1987

    This article examines Palestinian identity transformation in Israel during the years between 1967 and 1987. Fifteen Palestinian novels and autobiographies were published in Israel during this period. My article will focus on a group of five from among them that I call counteraction novels. Counteraction novels show the failure of the Zionist modernist paradigm—according to which modernization and integration of Palestinians in Israel are complementary processes—by reflecting a Palestinian distinction between modernism and Zionism. On the one hand, the novels reflect that Palestinians in Israel are grappling with issues posed to them by modernization. On the other hand, counteraction novels present a uniform rejection of Zionism’s erasure and alienation of Palestinians in Israel. I also argue that counteraction novels do not portray a “positive” Palestinian identity; they do not voice what Palestinian identity is.