Beyond zionism: A "spatial turn" in the Israeli historiography?

Yfaat Weiss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article reviews a wide range of studies that have placed considerable and even preeminent emphasis on the spatial aspect of Israeli history. They challenge the conventional understanding and concepts of space. These studies use the spatial perspective in order to contest existing perceptions of the foundation and consolidation of the Israeli state in the land of Israel. One of the significant turning points in writing on the Israeli « Place » (makom) over the past decades starting with the first Intifada, is interpretational in nature, and is expressed in the separation and dismantling of deeply-rooted and prevalent causal arguments and their replacement by others. Space takes on different forms, moving between physical, visible and tangible aspects and functional, political and symbolic spheres. The increasing attention paid to space is part of the growing general criticism of the zionist settlement endeavor by scholars who refuse to continue to interpret it on its own terms. What all the studies reviewed in this article have in common is the contemporary challenging of the Jewish-Israeli cognitive map, which is oblivious to the former Palestinian resident. A new understanding is gained by the spatial perspective of Israel studies. From the spatial perspective, as opposed to public discourse, 1967 does not necessarily appear as a turning point. With the continuation of the state of occupation created by the events of 1967, this point in time has become a chronic rather than an acute situation. The spatial perspective facilitates methodical analysis and exposes causal relationships between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli society's internal social debates and conflicts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)125-154
Number of pages30
JournalRevue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Belin.


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