Join us in person at 617 Kent Hall at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, April 3, for a lecture with Amir Reicher (Hebrew University).
The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University
Date and time
Starts on Wednesday, April 3 · 6pm EDT
Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University
617 Kent Hall New York, NY
About this event
Join us in person at 617 Kent Hall at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, April 3, for a lecture with Amir Reicher (Hebrew University), a recipient of the IIJS’ Kingdon New Voices in Israel and Jewish Studies Award for 2023-2024. This lecture is titled “From Eretz Yisrael to Adamah: On Metaphysical Detachment and the Turn to the Concrete Among West Bank Settlers (or: What Drives Settlers to Grab More Land).”
Over the past two decades, the building of “illegal outposts” has become the main tool in advancing the West Bank settlement project. Established deep within the territories, the people who live in these outposts—mostly second-generation settlers born in “Judea and Samaria” to parents from the Gush Emunim movement—are considered the most radical and “fundamentalist” within West Bank settlement society. In 2019, I immersed myself in one of these communities for nearly two years of anthropological research.
In this talk, I aim to unravel the mindset driving a specific segment of outpost settlers, who, as we shall see, diverge from the nationalist-messianic vision of their parents’ generation. Specifically, I will demonstrate how, through a process of’metaphysical detachment,’ these frontier settlers gravitate toward the physical realm in a desperate quest for an existential anchor. I argue that rather than the abstract and the transcendental, what drives these people is a radical turn to the concrete and tangible. In this way, I will analyze how a sense of religious crisis serves to infuse their settler-colonial practices with ever more energy. By tracing this process, I will reflect on contemporary political dynamics unfolding in the West Bank and outline the emergence of what I see is a distinct religious modality invented in the outposts.
Amir Reicher holds a PhD in anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University. He is an anthropologist specializing in the anthropology of religion and settler-colonialism. His research is based on almost two years of anthropological fieldwork among West Bank settlers, during which he lived in an illegal outpost settlement in the Judean Desert area. He is currently completing his book manuscript titled Between Two Messiahs, in which he presents a granular account of how the West Bank settlement project expands as he analyzes the rise of a post-messianic imagination among a specific segment of settlers. In doing so, at the center of his work is an investigation of the unfolding of political violence in the aftermath of messianic and ideological fervor.
Supported by the generosity of Mark Kingdon and Anla Cheng Kingdon, as well as the Radov and Kaye families.