National festivals. Military parades. Patriotic memorials. Such public events and tributes naturally bring to mind the idea of nationalism. But what is the cultural logic behind them? How does a country such as Israel facilitate state-related public events as enactments of nationalism? To answer these questions, renowned anthropologist Don Handelman unpacks the meaning of national ritual and symbol in Israel today. He argues that public events mirror social order, a mirror that reflects to its participants and audiences the message that the designers of such events wish to communicate. Handelman considers the meaning of Holocaust and military memorialism, and he investigates the role of holiday celebrations, especially how they affect young children first learning about their country. Analyzing state ceremonies such as Holocaust Remembrance Day for the war dead, and Independence Day, he notes the absence of minorities and examines their significance in the promotion of a national identity. He also looks at how Israel exports powerful symbols of statehood. Throughout, Handelman develops his theory of bureaucratic logic as the driving force behind expressions of nationalism in the modern state. He argues that bureaucratic logic has a much wider cachet than simply functioning as a way of thinking only about bureaucratic institutions. The logic is crucial to how these institutions function, but more so, it is a dominant force in forming modern state social order. Bureaucratic logic is used incessantly to invent and to modify all kinds of systems of classification that often have profound consequences for individuals and for groups, and that are ritualized powerfully through a host of state-related public events.
Table of Contents
IntroductionBasic Categories: Citizenship, Nationality, Ethnicity, MinoritySocialization: Nationalism and Bureaucratic LogicCelebrations of the National: Holiday Occasions in KindergartensCelebrations of Bureaucratic Logic: Birthday Parties in Israeli KindergartensFruition: Nationalism and Bureaucratic Logic Facing the Sea, Climbing the Mountain: Temporal and Topological Dimensions of National Public EventsThe Opening Event of Holocaust Remembrance Day: Bureaucratic Logic, Bureaucratic AestheticsSequencing the National: Remembrance Day and Independence DayThe Holes of AbsenceThe Presence of Absence: The Memorialization of National DeathAbsence Rising: Telling Little Holocaust Stories in IsraelNationalism and Memorialism AbroadThe Memorial Olympics of 1984: Israel and the Symbolism of Nationalism and Internationalism in Los AngelesPostscriptPostludeReferences Cited
Don Handelman is Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.