"Buy local" or "buy Jewish"? Separatist consumption in interwar Palestine

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The article explores the Zionist cultural economy in interwar Palestine, by studying the emergence of the field of consumption as an arena for political struggles among Jews and between Jews and Arabs. The Jewish nationalist movement employed dominant contemporary assumptions about economic nationalism in attempts to politicize the economy of British Palestine, including through campaigns advocating ethnonational separatism in consumption. Unlike other "buy local" movements around the world, these were not directed solely against imports; rather, they were often "buy Jewish" campaigns waged against the consumption of commodities produced by the rival ethnonational sector in Palestine. Using a variety of archival and media sources, the article tracks the development of Jewish separatist consumption campaigns in interwar Palestine, uncovering a gradual amplification of their ethnonational emphasis that paralleled the escalation of the Arab-Jewish conflict. The cultural mechanisms used to attribute ethnic qualities to objects and define them as either "Jewish" or "foreign" are analyzed with particular attention to the conceptual contradictions in the definitions of a Jewish product, which were shaped by economic conflicts and the diverse political conceptions of Jewish identity. The study of separatist consumption sheds new light on the "dual society" thesis, revealing the deep grip of separatist approaches across multiple layers of the Jewish middle class in the Yishuv.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-489
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Middle East Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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