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Cultural production and Zionist ideology: The case study of Gesher Theatre in Israel

Olga Gershenson, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Gesher is a theatre founded by a group of Russian immigrants in Tel Aviv in 1990. Gesher is a cultural phenomenon that, like a prism, refracts issues of interethnic relations, cultural and immigration policy, and the status of media discourse in Israel. Therefore, Gesher is a rich site for research on cultural production and exchange. In this dissertation, I apply the theoretical perspectives of cultural and critical studies to the analysis of the cultural practices of Gesher and the discourses emerging in the theatre's reception. First, I use the theoretical perspective of cultural studies to write the history of the Gesher theatre, connecting each stage in its evolvement with the cultural and social context in Israel. Second, I offer a critical discourse analysis of Gesher's media reception, exploring questions of cultural production and exchange in the context of hegemonic ideology. I contrast the media reception of Gesher in Israel to its reception abroad. Third, I theorize the dynamic of cultural exchange that emerges in this media reception in order to uncover regimes of power and normative knowledges active in Israeli cultural production. To that end, I construct an original theoretical model grounded in my fieldwork. My analysis of Gesher's reception indicates a novel situation in which the discursive condition of immigration has important parallels to colonization. And so, extrapolating post-colonial discourse analysis to the context of immigration, I suggest a model of Mutual and Internal Colonization. In the discursive process of mutual colonization the roles of the cultural colonizer and the colonized shift in different contexts, leading both immigrants and their hosts to colonize each other, and then ultimately to colonize themselves as these roles turn inwards. In the future, this model can be applied for theorizing the positions of different subjects with hyphenated identities across cultures.

Subject Area

Communication|Mass media|Theater

Recommended Citation

Gershenson, Olga, "Cultural production and Zionist ideology: The case study of Gesher Theatre in Israel" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3096277.