Andrew Katzenstein Atwell

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10281

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Atwell, Andrew (Chicago, U. of) "Settling the Good: Ethical Imagination, Temporal Paradox, and the Settlement of Israel's Urban Interior"

My project explores how Israeli Jewish ethical imagination is shaped by a seeming paradox of temporal expectation: Israel is forever, yet Israel is existentially threatened. This paradox generates certain ethical anxieties about Jewish settlement on the Land of Israel, and these anxieties manifest in part through the central place of history telling in producing and experiencing this or that Jewish settlement project as eternal and/or existentially threatened. I examine how temporal paradox inflects Israeli Jewish understandings of the good through tracing practices of history telling at a site where the full range of Israel’s settlement anxieties come together: the settlement of Israel’s urban interior in cities like Lod by garinim toranim (‘Torah seed’ groups). Lod’s garin torani works to ‘Judaize’ and ‘settle’ the city through immigration and a wealth of educational, housing, welfare, and municipal programs. Across these interventions, the telling of histories is a central means through which Lod’s garin torani works to produce Zionist consensus on the moral urgencies of the present and the imagined society of the future. As a dual expectation of continuity and existential unraveling becomes increasingly common elsewhere, apprehending the effects of such expectation in Israel speaks to contemporary possibilities for ethical life elsewhere.