Israeli geographers in search of a national identity

Izhak Schnell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zionist geographers in Israel were highly involved in institutionalizing Israel's national identity. In search for interpretative schemes, they were highly committed both to Western paradigms and to Zionist narratives. Until the 1970s, organicist models of regional geography were popular despite contradictions between the use of tragic and comic narratives in Western models and the need to adopt romantic narratives for Zionist purposes. The emergence of historical geography in the 1950s helped to solve these contradictions by adopting a contextual mode of explanation in which the national story has been described in terms of a unique one and as an example for the power of Zionist civilization to transform bewildered nature. During the last two decades, new forms of criticism have emerged that changed the discourse from a particularistic story of nation building to a more general story of colonization and territorial control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-573
Number of pages14
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2004


  • And contextual modes of explanation
  • Comic and romantic narratives
  • Formistic
  • Mechanistic
  • Organicist
  • Praxis
  • Satire
  • Search for national identity
  • Tragic
  • Zionist geographers


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