Liora R. Halperin, PH.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Boulder
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the Program in Jewish Studies and the holder of the Endowed Professorship in Israel/Palestine Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. My research focuses on Jewish cultural history, Jewish-Arab relations in Ottoman and Mandate Palestine, language ideology and policy, and the politics surrounding nation formation in Palestine in the years leading up to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. I am also a member of the advisory board for CU's Archive of Post-Holocaust American Judaism and affiliated faculty in Middle Eastern Studies at the CU Center for Asian Studies.
My first book, Babel in Zion: Jews, Nationalism and Language Diversity in Palestine, 1920-1948, was published by Yale University Press and awarded the Shapiro Prize from the Association for Israel Studies for best book in Israel Studies.
In 2016-2017 am a fellow at the University of Michigan's Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, working on a second book project about the construction of historical narratives about the early European Jewish agricultural colonies (moshavot) established in late 19th century Palestine. Focusing on the British Mandate and early Israeli state periods, I explore local memory and commemoration, the politics of heroism, victimhood, and "firstness," and the often ambiguous place of these early colonies, largely religious, capitalist, and reliant on native Arab labor, in evolving narratives about the origins, purpose, and meaning of the Jewish settlement project in Palestine.
I received my Ph.D. from UCLA's history department. In 2011-2012 I was the Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University. In 2012-2013 I was an Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Judaic Studies at Princeton University. I teach courses on Israel/Palestine, Jewish History, and the Modern Middle East, as well as courses on historical methodology.
Past book talks:
University of Oxford, UK, May 17, 2016
Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, April 14, 2016
UCLA, February 18, 2016
UC Santa Barbara, February 17, 2016
University of Washington, Seattle, January 27, 2016
USC , Los Angeles, Nov. 1, 2015. Casden Conversation with Prof. Sarah Bunin Benor on "Jews, Zionism, and the Politics of Language in Palestine and Israel."
University of California, San Diego, October 29, 2015
S.F. Jewish Community Library, October 18, 2015
Temple Emunah (Lexington, MA), Feb. 22, 2015
Yale University: Feb. 19, 2015
Bard College: Feb. 18, 2015
Indiana University: January 30, 2015
University of Chicago: January 29, 2015
My first book, Babel in Zion: Jews, Nationalism and Language Diversity in Palestine, 1920-1948, was published in 2015 by Yale University Press.
Babel in Zion was awarded the 2015 Shapiro Prize for best book in Israel Studies by the Association for Israel Studies.
Order a copy of the book here (Amazon)
or here (Yale University Press)
Interview about the book on the Ottoman History Podcast, April 4, 2016.
Interview about the book on the New Books in History Podcast, September 10, 2015
Reviews of the Book:
* Review by Jess Olson in the American Historical Review
* Review by Yoni Furas in Ha-Mizrah He-Hadash [in Hebrew]
* Review by Barbara Mann in the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
* Review by Shaul Magid in Modern Judaism
* Review by Mikhail Krutikov in The Yiddish Daily Forward [in Yiddish]
The promotion and vernacularization of Hebrew, traditionally a language of Jewish liturgy and study, was a central accomplishment of the Zionist movement in Palestine in the years following World War I. Viewing twentieth-century history through the lens of language, author Liora Halperin questions the accepted scholarly narrative of a Zionist move away from multilingualism, demonstrating how Jews in Palestine remained connected linguistically by both preference and necessity to a world outside the boundaries of the pro-Hebrew community even as it promoted Hebrew and achieved that language’s dominance. The story of language encounters in Jewish Palestine is a fascinating tale of shifting power relationships, both locally and globally. Halperin’s absorbing study explores how a young national community was compelled to modify the dictates of Hebrew exclusivity as it negotiated its relationships with its Jewish population, Palestinian Arabs, the British, and others outside the margins of the national project and ultimately came to terms with the limitations of its hegemony in an interconnected world.