Modernity and the hybridization of nationalism and religion: Zionism and the Jews of the Middle East as a heuristic case

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Abstract

This article looks at nationalism and religion, analyzing the sociological mechanisms by which their intersection is simultaneously produced and obscured. I propose that the construction of modern nationalism follows two contradictory principles that operate simultaneously: hybridization and purification. Hybridization refers to the mixing of "religious" and "secular" practices; purification refers to the separation between "religion" and "nationalism" as two distinct ontological zones. I test these arguments empirically using the case of Zionist nationalism. As a movement that was born in Europe but traveled to the Middle East, Zionism exhibits traits of both of these seemingly contradictory principles, of hybridization and purification, and pushes them to their limits. The article concludes by pointing to an epistemological asymmetry in the literature by which the fusion of nationalism and religion tends to be underplayed in studies of the West and overplayed in studies of the East/global South.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalTheory and Society
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2007

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