Prof. Liora R. Halperin
Historian of Israel/Palestine, Modern Jewish History
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.
Starting in July 2017 I will be an Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History and the Jack and Rebecca Benaroya Chair in Israel Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.
My research focuses on Jewish cultural history and collective memory, the history of Zionism, 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.
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 I was a fellow at the University of Michigan's Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, working on a second book project about collective memory in and around the 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 and "firstness," and the often ambiguous place of these early colonies in evolving narratives about the origins, purpose, and significance of the Zionist 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, history and memory, diaspora, and urban studies.
"Past Perfect: Memories of Language and the Politics of Arabic in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine," Weinstein-Minkoff Lecture, University of Wisconsin--Madison, April 6, 2017
"Hebrew and Beyond: Language as a Window into the History of Israel," West Bloomfield JCC, February 8, 2017
"Beyond Hebrew: Jews, Nationalism and Language Diversity in Palestine and Israel, University of Kentucky, January 26, 2017
I've also been invited to give talks at, among others, the University of Chicago, Yale, Oxford, UCLA, the University of Southern California, Berkeley, UC Irvine, Indiana University, Middlebury College, Bard College, and to a variety of community and public audiences.
I have also been faculty in Modern Jewish History, in Dallas and Denver, for the Wexner Heritage Program, an intensive Jewish Studies course for Jewish community leaders.
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.
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.
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 Ruvik Rosenthal on his blog, Ha-zirah ha-leshonit (The Language Arena)
* Review by Hizky Shoham in Israel [in Hebrew]
* 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]