At the core of this thesis, I examine the difficulties of giving an account of oneself in modern associational life. By integrating the theory and political activism of both Edward Said and Hannah Arendt, I follow the Zionist response to European antisemitism and the Palestinian responses to Jewish settler colonialism. Both parties struggle against their ambiguous presence within local and regional hegemonic social taxonomy, and within the world order. Contemporarily, this struggle takes place in the protracted conflict between Israeli and local Arab groups, which has been managed through violence and objectification, as opposed to allowing the dynamism and reconfiguration of political subjectivities. In their later writings, Arendt and Said respond to the violence and resentment that arises from the form of the nation-state by prescribing, and arguably practicing, an understanding of politics where the “other” is constitutive of the “self.” By seeing this relation of alternity as the contemporary heir to diasporic Judaism and Jewish cosmopolitanism, I argue that this project holds the historical traction to reinvigorate the future beyond static and growing violence and dispossession.
Bessen, Jacob A. and Bessen, Jacob, "Narrative and Belonging: The Politics of Ambiguity, The Jewish State, and the Thought of Edward Said and Hannah Arendt" (2017). International Studies Honors Projects. 23.
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