chapter  36
16 Pages

Alex Weingrod Dry Bones: Nationalism and Symbolism in Contemporary Israel

There are many different dimensions to this complex motif, and several have been examined in earlier studies. For example, Sivan (1991, 1993) analysed the emergent forms of memorializing Israel’s war dead (the ‘1948 generation’); writing of the cultural format commonly chosen to commemorate the ‘fallen soldiers’ – published remembrances written by comrades and family members – he concludes

■ DRY BONES: NATIONALISM AND SYMBOLISM IN CONTEMPORARY ISRAEL, Anthropology Today, 11.6, December 1995, pp. 7-12

that whereas the contents are typically secular and nationalist, they follow a traditional Jewish religious form of memorialization (the ‘yizkor books’) that reaches back to the thirteenth century. Almog (1992) studied a different aspect of recalling dead heroes – the many stone and metal monuments that have been erected throughout the country – and he adopts a semiotic theory of analysis as a means of interpreting their message. Levinger (1993) also examined Israeli war memorials, although her analysis focuses more on topics of ideology and aesthetics. Finally, Aronoff (1993) has taken a different direction, one that is closely related to the topics developed in this article: his focus is on the bones themselves and the uses to which they are put in present-day Israeli culture and politics. Bones, burials and reburials, he argues, are intertwined with complex issues of contemporary Israeli collective action and the process whereby socio-political legitimacy is created and used.