Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Oct 15, 1995 - History - 340 pages
0 Reviews
Because new nations need new pasts, they create new ways of commemorating and recasting select historic events. In Recovered Roots, Yael Zerubavel illuminates this dynamic process by examining the construction of Israeli national tradition.

In the years leading to the birth of Israel, Zerubavel shows, Zionist settlers in Palestine consciously sought to rewrite Jewish history by reshaping Jewish memory. Zerubavel focuses on the nationalist reinterpretation of the defense of Masada against the Romans in 73 C.E. and the Bar Kokhba revolt of 133-135; and on the transformation of the 1920 defense of a new Jewish settlement in Tel Hai into a national myth. Zerubavel demonstrates how, in each case, Israeli memory transforms events that ended in death and defeat into heroic myths and symbols of national revival.

Drawing on a broad range of official and popular sources and original interviews, Zerubavel shows that the construction of a new national tradition is not necessarily the product of government policy but a creative collaboration between politicans, writers, and educators. Her discussion of the politics of commemoration demonstrates how rival groups can turn the past into an arena of conflict as they posit competing interpretations of history and opposing moral claims on the use of the past. Zerubavel analyzes the emergence of counter-memories within the reality of Israel's frequent wars, the ensuing debates about the future of the occupied territories, and the embattled relations with Palestinians.

A fascinating examination of the interplay between history and memory, this book will appeal to historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and folklorists, as well as to scholars of cultural studies, literature, and communication.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


PART ONE History Collective Memory and Countermemory
PART TWO The Birth of National Myths
The Bar Kokhba Revolt
The Fall of Masada
PART THREE Literature Ritual and the Invention of Tradition
Bar Kokhba the Bonfire and the Lion
Chapters The Rock and the Vow
Calendars and Sites as Commemorative Loci
PART FOUR Politics of Commemoration
The Bar Kokhba Revolt and the Meaning
Masada and the Meaning of Death
History Memory and Invented

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information