Panel Discussion on “Desert in the Promised Land” Planned

Desert in the Promised Land book cover
The panel discussion will focus on the book “Desert in the Promised Land” by Yael Zerubavel.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, at 5 p.m., the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (IHGMS) will host “Desert in the Promised Land: Nature, Settlement, and the Politics of Space in Israel,” a panel discussion of the new book “Desert in the Promised Land” by Yael Zerubavel.

In the book, Zerubavel explores the desert as an ecological phenomenon and a cultural construction from the early twentieth century to the present, shedding light on romantic-mythical associations, settlement and security concerns, environmental sympathies and the commodifying tourist gaze. She reveals the complexities and contradictions that mark Israeli society’s semiotics of space in relation to the Middle East and the central role of the “besieged island” trope in Israeli culture and politics.

The discussion panel will include:

  • Yael Zerubavel, professor emerita of Jewish studies and history at Rutgers University. She has published extensively in the areas of collective memory and commemorations, war and trauma, Israeli culture and symbolic landscapes.
  • Barbara Mann, professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She is an author, most recently of “Space and Place in Jewish Studies," and is currently completing a manuscript called "The Object of Jewish Literature: A Material History for Yale University Press.”
  • Derek Penslar, William Lee Frost Professor of Modern Jewish History at Harvard University. His most recent books are “Jews and the Military: A History” and “Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader.” His current book project is titled “Zionism: An Emotional State.”

The panel will be moderated by Alon Confino, Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies, professor of history and Jewish studies and director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst.

The event will be hosted at the IHGMS building at 758 N Pleasant St., Amherst.

See the Facebook event page for more information.