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Kingdon New Voices in Israel and Jewish Studies Award Lecture

Published: March 29, 2024; Author: Julia Sonrisa

 April 3, 2024    06:00 PM-07:00 PM EDT

Address: 617 Kent Hall, New York, NY, United States

Phone: +1 212-854-2581


Kingdon New Voices in Israel and Jewish Studies Award Lecture

Over the past two decades, the building of “illegal outposts” became the main tool in advancing the West Bank settlement project. Established deep within the territories, the people who live in these outposts — mostly second-generation settlers born in “Judea and Samaria” to parents from the Gush Emunim movement — are considered the most radical and “fundamentalist” within West Bank settlement society. In 2019, I immersed myself in one of these communities for nearly two years of anthropological research.

In this talk, I aim to unravel the mindset driving a specific segment of outpost settlers, who, as we shall see, diverge from the nationalist-messianic vision of their parents’ generation. Specifically, I will demonstrate how through a process of ‘metaphysical detachment,’ these frontier settlers gravitate toward the physical realm in a desperate quest for an existential anchor. I argue that rather than the abstract and the transcendental what drives these people is a radical turn to the concrete and tangible. In this way, I will analyze how a sense of religious crisis serves to infuse their settler-colonial practices with ever more energy. By tracing this process, I will reflect on contemporary political dynamics unfolding in the West Bank and outline the emergence of what I see as a distinct religious modality invented in the outposts.

Amir Reicher holds a PhD in Anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University. He is an anthropologist specializing in the anthropology of religion and settler-colonialism. His research is based on almost two years of anthropological fieldwork among West Bank settlers, during which he lived in an illegal outpost settlement in the Judean Desert area. He is currently completing his book manuscript titled Between Two Messiahs, in which he presents a granular account of how the West Bank settlement project expands, as he analyzes the rise of a post-messianic imagination among a specific segment of settlers. In doing so, at the center of his work is an investigation of the unfolding of political violence in the aftermath of messianic and ideological fervor.

Supported by the generosity of Mark Kingdon and Anla Cheng Kingdon, as well as the Radov and Kaye families.

Time: 6:00-8:00 pm EST



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