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Facts on the Ground

Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society

Facts on the Ground

Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society

Archaeology in Israel is truly a national obsession, a practice through which national identity—and national rights—have long been asserted. But how and why did archaeology emerge as such a pervasive force there? How can the practices of archaeology help answer those questions? In this stirring book, Nadia Abu El-Haj addresses these questions and specifies for the first time the relationship between national ideology, colonial settlement, and the production of historical knowledge. She analyzes particular instances of history, artifacts, and landscapes in the making to show how archaeology helped not only to legitimize cultural and political visions but, far more powerfully, to reshape them. Moreover, she places Israeli archaeology in the context of the broader discipline to determine what unites the field across its disparate local traditions and locations.

Boldly uncovering an Israel in which science and politics are mutually constituted, this book shows the ongoing role that archaeology plays in defining the past, present, and future of Palestine and Israel.

363 pages | 20 halftones, 4 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology


Geography: Cultural and Historical Geography

Middle Eastern Studies

Religion: Religion and Society


"Al-Haj’s analysis of the political nature of archaeological practice is an incisive, penetrating, and persuasive discussion of how the past has been instrumental in the shaping of modern Israeli identity."


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Author’s Note
1. Excavating Archaeology
2. Scientific Beginnings
3. Instituting Archaeology
4. Terrains of Settler Nationhood
5. Positive Facts of Nationhood
6. Excavating Jerusalem
7. Extending Sovereignty
8. Historical Legacies
9. Archaeology and Its Aftermath
10. Conclusion


Middle East Studies Association: Albert Hourani Book Award

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