The site of silence: Performing the economy of (non-)memory in Israel

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In this study we seek to understand the gendered dynamics of bearing witness, remembering, and mourning in contemporary Israeli society by examining the performative practices of one protest movement, Women in Black (WiB). Our focus is on the Haifa chapter of the movement, whose vigils we observed over a seven-year period. After a brief overview of the literature regarding national remembering and commemoration in Israel, the formation of WiB and its place in Israeli political life and discourse, we move to our analysis of the vigil. We argue that by analyzing WiB's vigil as a performance, we are able to complicate the discussion concerning women, performance and remembrance in general and in Israel in particular. We find that through their performance WiB disrupts the current economy of memory in Israel; by remembering and performing that which many would like to remain forgotten - the occupation which followed the 1967 War and its consequences - it engages in a project of transformative remembering, which disturbs its audience's equanimity and forces it to review its past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-134
Number of pages18
JournalWomen and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Israel
  • Women in Black
  • demonstration
  • memory
  • performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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