Remaking generational memory: practices of de-canonisation at historical museums

Efrat Ben-Ze’ev*, Edna Lomsky-Feder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Members of generations who participated in seminal national events tend to be identified as ‘canonical’ and become a model for proper behaviour; they are important carriers of memory. However, their privileged status is not guaranteed for long and their position will, at some point, be challenged. It is this dynamic, whereby a generational unit is canonised and then de-canonised, that we explore in this paper. We follow this process as it is manifested in three historical museums in Israel. These museums exhibit the story of the Palmach, a semi-underground militia, whose members were considered among the Zionists as the elite fighters of the 1948 War. When observing their museological representations in the last decades, we uncover the attempt to root the Palmach heritage, on the one hand, while on the other–to revise its content via three practices of de-canonisation. This revision includes the individualisation of war memories; giving legitimacy to critical voices; and dismantling the bond between the generational legacy and the nation. Paradoxically these practices of freeing the veterans from their previous canonical role ensures the preservation of some symbolic capital.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1077-1091
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Efrat Ben-Ze’Ev and Edna Lomsky-Feder. Published with license by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • 1948 Palestine-Israel War
  • Social memory
  • canonical generation
  • de-canonization
  • national heritage
  • war museums


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