The New Jewish Underground: Occupation, Excavation, and Neoliberalism in East Jerusalem

Rowland, Natasha, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Loeffler, James, History, University of Virginia

This paper explores how archaeology in East Jerusalem increasingly came under the purview of far-right Jewish settler organizations toward the end of the twentieth century. The essay focuses on the political and economic processes that drove transfers of authority for excavations in the area from the Israeli government to private settler groups. In particular, it considers the interplay between neoliberalism and nationalism in the Israeli political setting, using archaeology as a case study to argue that they have reinforced one another since Israel formally adopted neoliberalism in 1985.

The paper also places archaeology in East Jerusalem within the broader context of identity and nation-making in Israel-Palestine, examining how excavation findings have been used to reinforce Jewish connection to the land while occluding non-Jewish histories in the same territory. The essay thus considers how archaeology, particularly in occupied territory, has been instrumentalized to reinforce an Israeli-Zionist narrative of return and the consequent negation of the exile.

MA (Master of Arts)
East Jerusalem, Archaeology, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Zionism, Jewish far right, Neoliberalism
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