Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture | Public Lecture

Zionism: An Emotional State

Monday 15 May 2023
This lecture is open to everyone (staff, students, public).
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
0.05 (Lecture Hall)

Emotion lies at the heart of all national movements, and Zionism is no exception. For those who identify as Zionist, the word connotes liberation and redemption, uniqueness and vulnerability. Yet for many, Zionism is a source of distaste if not disgust, and those who reject it are no less passionate than those who embrace it. The power of such emotions helps explain why a word originally associated with territorial aspiration has survived so many years after the establishment of the Israeli state. Zionism: An Emotional State expertly demonstrates how the energy propelling the Zionist project originates from bundles of feeling whose elements have varied in volume, intensity, and durability across space and time. Beginning with an original typology of Zionism and a new take on its relationship to colonialism, Penslar then examines the emotions that have shaped Zionist sensibilities and practices over the course of the movement’s history. The resulting portrait of Zionism reconfigures how we understand Jewish identity amidst continuing debates on the role of nationalism in the modern world.

Derek J. Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of several books, including Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader and Jews and the Military: A History.

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