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Maher, John (2009) Slouching towards Jerusalem: Reactive nationalism in the Irish, Israeli and Palestinian novel, 1985-2005. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The Irish, Israeli and Palestinian novels have, individually, been the subject of considerable evaluation over the years. Nevertheless, very little work of a comparative nature has been carried out on the three literatures. A comparative study would provide a useful insight into the artistic articulation of the respective conflicts and the role of nationalism within those conflicts. Given the particular complexity of the Irish and Israeli-Palestinian situations, the place of nationalism in the respective societies is an extremely important one. Nevertheless, it is the 'top-down' nationalism of the elites rather than the more pragmatic reactive nationalism which tends to be highlighted in both situations. The thesis looks at the phenomenon of reactive nationalism in a selection of Irish, Israeli and Palestinian novels. Conclusions are reached as to the representation of reactive nationalism in the novels. The method followed is a comparative one, framed by an overview of nationalist theory, literary and cultural studies and involving close reading. Nationalism is considered under various tropes: land, the image of the enemy, love and war, religion and language. Land is seen as fundamental to both conflicts. The image of the enemy is seen to mutate, over time. Love and war are considered as existing in a symbiotic, if asymmetric, relationship. The contrasting weighting of religion, in both conflicts, is reflected in the selected novels. Finally, the nationalist trope of language is considered, particularly in the light of the phenomenon of the revival of Hebrew, before the foundation of the State of Israel. Reactive nationalism is shown, by virtue of its pragmatic nature, to be a less than useful tool for long-term projects such as state-building and language revival. Language is considered, in the end, as a territorializing factor at least as formidable as land tenure. The cultural survival of both the Israeli and Palestinian ethnics is seen to be reflected in the linguistic and literary hegemony of the novels drawn from their societies.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:15

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