Jewish and Israel Studies

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The Semiotics of Israeli Space and Time


The Late Michael Feige, Israeli sociologist and internationally renowned commentator on Israeli society.

Professor David Ohana teaches European history at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He was a visiting fellow at The Sorbonne, Harvard, and Berkeley as well as the first academic director of the Forum for Mediterranean Cultures at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Analyses by the Israeli sociologist Michael Feige embraced every aspect of the State of Israel. He examined the ever-changing and complex identity of Israelis; how they remember and commemorate themselves; the long- and short-term conceptions of time of the left- and right-wing political movements; the spacial concept of the settlers; myths underlying the lives and deaths of its citizens; and the dialectical vicissitudes of the real and imagined Israel.

The book contains material from Professor Feige’s literary output, contextualized in an Introduction by David Ohana. Chapters delve into the meaning of Israeli signs and symbols; the semiotics of secular spaces (sites of disasters and graves of political and religious leaders); the semiotics of historical time and daily existence; forms of commemoration (of figures like David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, airforce pilots, a female settler and a peace activist). Feige scrutinized communities formed around political cells, the processes of fragmentation and globalization in Israel, the traumas and scars from the Yom Kippur War, the evacuation of settlements, and the killing of Yitzhak Rabin. Feige's scrutiny illuminated Israeli society in myriad ways. He was a sociologist among historians and a historian among sociologists, and internationally acknowledged as having an extraordinary ability to convey sociological meaning and structure to Israel’s radical political culture as expressed in its social actions and underlying mythology.

Semiotics of Israeli Space and Time is not only an essential sociological toolbox for students and an historical masterpiece for the wider Israeli public to better understand the society to which they belong, but a commemorative volume to honour his life and work. Michael was murdered on 8 June 2016 when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire in the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-077-4
Paperback Price: £29.95 / $39.95
Release Date: January 2021
Page Extent / Format: 424 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


A. Social Semiotics

1. Social Semiotics, Pragmatics and the Analysis of Changing Semiospheres: The Israeli Case
2. Card Games and an Israeli Army Unit: An Interpretive Case Study
3. From Pioneer to Freier: The Changing Models of Generalized Exchange in Israel
4. Mini Israel: The Israeli Place Between the Global and the Miniature
5. Funeral at the Edge of a Cliff: Israel Bids Farewell to David Ben-Gurion

B. Spatial Sociology: Where is 'Here'?

6. The Movement to Stop the Withdrawal in Sinai: A Sociological Perspective
7. The Names of the Place: New Historiography in Tamar Berger's Dionysus at the Center
8. Passion and Territory in Israeli Historiography

C. The Debate over the Occupied Territories

9. Do Not Weep Rachel: Fundamentalism, Commemoration and Gender in a West Bank Settlement 
10. Peace Now and the Legitimation Crisis of "Civil Militarism"
11. Rescuing the Person from the Symbol: "Peace Now" and the Ironies of Modern Myth

D. The Politics of Archeology

12. Identity, Ritual and Pilgrimage: The Meetings of the Israeli Exploration Society
13. Recovering Authenticity: West-Bank Settlers and the Second Stage of National Archaeology
14. Where it All Began: Archaeology, Nationalism and Fundamentalism in Silwan

E. Catastrophe and Memory

15. Privatizing Commemoration: The Helicopter Disaster Monument and the Absent State

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