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Price: $65.50

Hardback 448 pp.
6.125" x 9.25"



Publication date:
January 2011

Imprint: OUP US

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Narrative and the Politics of Identity

The Cultural Psychology of Israeli and Palestinian Youth

Phillip L. Hammack

Since the late nineteenth century, Jews and Arabs have been locked in an intractable battle for national recognition in a land of tremendous historical and geopolitical significance. While historians and political scientists have long analyzed the dynamics of this bitter conflict, rarely has an archeology of the mind of those who reside within the matrix of conflict been attempted. This book not only offers a psychological analysis of the consequences of conflict for the psyche, it develops an innovative, compelling, and cross-disciplinary argument about the mutual constitution of culture and mind through the process of life-story construction.

But the book pushes boundaries further through an analysis of two peace education programs designed to fundamentally alter the nature of young Israeli and Palestinian life stories. Hammack argues that these popular interventions, rooted in the idea of prejudice reduction through contact and the cultivation of 'cosmopolitan' identities, are fundamentally flawed due to their refusal to deal with the actual political reality of young Israeli and Palestinian lives and their attempt to construct an alternative narrative of great hope but little resonance for Israelis and Palestinians. Grounded in over a century of literature that spans the social sciences, Hammack's analysis of young Israeli and Palestinian lives captures the complex, dynamic relationship among politics, history, and identity and offers a provocative and audacious proposal for psychology and peace education.

Readership : Scholars in social, cultural, personality, and developmental psychology; political psychology education researchers; peace education and peace research scholars; anthropologists; sociologists; historians; political scientists; the interested public on Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Part 1. Orientations
A Note on Geographic Terminology
1. Culture, Identity, and Story: A Framework for the Study of Lives
I. Preliminary Provocations
II. Capturing Culture
III. Interrogating Identity
IV. The Cultural Psychology of Identity
V. Experimenting with Identity
VI. The Cosmopolitan Ideal
VII. Identity as Burden or Benefit?
VIII. Politicizing Psychology, Psychologizing Politics
IX. An Orientation
2. A "Stranger" in the Holy Land
I. A Position
II. A Personal Narrative
III. Approaching the Study of Lives
IV. The Politics of the Field
V. Field Sites in Israel and Palestine
Beit Jala and Bethlehem
Tulkarm and Nablus
Tel Aviv
The Gilboa
VI. Field Sites in the United States
Seeds of Peace
Hands of Peace
VII. The Interviewees
VIII. The Interview Procedure
IX. Analytic Strategy
Part 2. Stories
3. "Jewish in My Blood": Stories of Jewish Israeli Youth
I. The Master Narrative of Jewish Israeli Identity
An Introduction
Theme 1: Persecution and Victimization
Theme 2: Existential Insecurity
Theme 3: Exceptionalism
Theme 4: Delegitimization of Palestinian Identity
II. The Stories of Youth
Yossi: The Ambivalent Pragmatist
Noa: The Kibbutznik
Roai: The Settler
Ayelet: The Cosmopolitan
III. Summary: The Cultural Psychology of Jewish Israeli Youth
4. "It's Not a Normal Life We Lead": Stories of Palestinian Youth
I. The Master Narrative of Palestinian Identity
An Introduction
Theme 1: Loss and Dispossession
Theme 2: Resistance
Theme 3: Existential Insecurity
Theme 4: Delegitimization of Israeli Identity
II. The Stories of Youth
Ali: The Unlikely Islamist
Adara: The Pious Villager
Luca: The Christian Fighter
Lubna: The Survivor
III. Summary: The Cultural Psychology of Palestinian Youth
5. "I Had a War with Myself": Palestinian-Israeli Youth and the Narration of Hyphenated Identities
I. The Master Narrative of Palestinian-Israeli Identity
Theme 1: Discrimination and Subordination
Theme 2: Hyphenation and "Double Marginality"
Theme 3: Existential Insecurity
Summary: The Palestinian-Israeli Master Narrative
II. The Stories of Youth
"I am Israeli First": The Story of Jibril
"I Had a War with Myself": The Story of Rania
"I am Divided between the Two": The Story of Sami
III. Summary: The Cultural Psychology of Palestinian-Israeli Youth
Part 3. Interventions
6. Peace and the Politics of Contact: A Brief History
I. Contact: The Allure and the Challenge
II. The Pathology of Prejudice
III. The Normative Psychology of Prejudice
IV. From Personality to Identity
V. Identity and the Cultural Psychology of Contact
VI. The Idea of Israeli-Palestinian Contact
VII. Contact, Narrative, and Identity
7. Re-Storying Self and Other: An American Experiment
I. The Synagogue and the Mosque
II. Identity Transcendence
"I Had Never Even Spoken to an Arab": The Story of Liat
"I Have Been Changed a Lot": The Story of Laila
"Maybe They are the Victim, the Real Victim": The Story of Noa
Summary: The Problem of Transcendence
III. Identity Accentuation
The Fatalist: The Story of Mohammed
The Settler: Revisiting the Story of Roai
The New Palestinian: Revisiting the Story of Jibril
IV. From Transcendence to Accentuation: An Analysis of Two Narratives over Time
The Cosmopolitan: Revisiting the Story of Ayelet
The Realist: Revisiting the Story of Laila
V. Conclusion: Contact and Identity
Part 4. Possibilities
8. Peace, Justice, and the Politics of Identity: Toward a New Praxis
I. A Virtual Dialogue
II. Ambitious Arguments
III. Narrative and the Psychological Infrastructure of Conflict
IV. Against Cosmopolitanism
American Intervention as a "Civilizing" Project
The Problem of Power and Social Structure
The Meaning of Contact
V. What's Wrong with Identity?
VI. Psychology and the Politics of a New Praxis: From Interpretation to Social Change
Undisciplining the Discipline
Politicizing Peace Psychology
Peril and Promise in Israeli and Palestinian Lives

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Philip L. Hammack is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Words and Stones - Daniel Lefkowitz
Language and Identity in the Balkans - Robert D. Greenberg
Culture and Identity in a Muslim Society - Gary S. Gregg
The Middle East - Gary S. Gregg
Foreword by David Matsumoto

Special Features

  • The model of cultural psychology proposed in this book challenges the mainstream cultural psychology as largely the identification of aggregate differences in various psychological dimensions by advancing a narrative approach.
  • The volume suggests changes to current peace education programs, relying on evidence from a longitudinal study of Israeli and Palestinian youth.
  • The book calls for a reinvigorated action research agenda which moves research interested in social transformation, as opposed to mere explanation or description, from margin to center in the discipline.