Friday, June 21, 2019

Daniel Monterescu and Haim Hazan's "Twilight Nationalism"

Daniel Monterescu is Associate Professor of Urban Anthropology at the Central European University and author of Jaffa Shared and Shattered: Contrived Coexistence in Israel/Palestine (2015). Haim Hazan is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Tel-Aviv University, and previously was Head of the Herczeg Institute for the Study of Old Age and Aging. He is author of Against Hybridity: Social Impasses in a Globalizing World (2015).

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Twilight Nationalism: Politics of Existence at Life’s End, and reported the following:
From page 99:
We Don’t Need a Jewish State

The father’s nationalist legacy was bequeathed intact to his descendants. The ethnonationalist identities that the sisters refer to merged together in their family and opened up possibilities of identification and loyalty that were embodied in their father’s multicultural figure but, given historical transformations, were realized only in the lives of his son and grandchildren.
Twilight Nationalism explores the violence of coexistence as narrated in life stories of elderly Jews and Arabs who reflect on seven eventful decades of life in Jaffa. Against the background of a century-long conflict between the Jewish and Palestinian national movements, the book focuses on the everyday experience of lived space and neighborly relations. While most scholars conceptualize both Palestinian and Jewish national collective identities as separate and antagonistic projects—indeed as independent ideologies of autochthony defined only by the negation and exclusion of the other—we focus instead on the relations of mutual determination between these communities, often rendered invisible in Israeli and Palestinian studies. While the notions of nation and person in Israel/Palestine have been reduced to collective narratives of conflict, revenge, survival, and redemption, we propose to read the political through the personal in order to reveal the correlation between life trajectories and the construction of cultural identities.

The book relates the life stories of ten elderly Jews and Arabs, who, from their perspective of generational marginality, radically deconstruct notions of both Palestinian and Jewish nationalism. Organized around individual figures rather than abstract sociological categories, each chapter voices personal strategies of engagement with nation, narration, age, and ethnic violence. Through select life stories of Jews and Palestinians who are at liberty to criticize the violence of territorial nationalism, we tell a unique story that is iconoclastic as it is hopeful.

Page 99 reveals one crucial part of the whole. More specifically, the gendered experience of elderly women. PART II: DUSK addresses the question of intergenerational transmission of nationalist values. Whereas the men portrayed in the book are engaged in justifying their identity as collective time erodes around them, the female protagonists live in the continuous present and often willingly step outside collective time; they tend to focus on the domestic and the local domains, observing the public sphere critically from within the confines of their home. These women’s accounts are often counter-nostalgic, redolent with peace and empathy, which are perhaps sustained by this compartmentalization and optimist agency.
Learn more about Twilight Nationalism at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue