Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Book Launch: Desert in the Promised Land

08 May 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Desert in Promised Land

We are delighted to host the book launch of 'Desert in the Promised Land' written by Yael Zerubavel (Rutgers). On this occasion, Oren Yiftachel (Ben-Gurion University) and Gil Pasternak (De Montfort University) will provide responses.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Haim Yacobi


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

At once an ecological phenomenon and a cultural construction, the desert has varied associations in Zionist and Israeli culture. Yael Zerubavel tells the story of the desert from the early twentieth century to the present, shedding light on romantic-mythical associations, settlement and security concerns, environmental sympathies, and the commodifying tourist gaze. Drawing on literary narratives, educational texts, newspaper articles, tourist materials, films, popular songs, posters, photographs, and cartoons, Zerubavel reveals the complexities and contradictions that mark Israeli society’s semiotics of space in relation to the Middle East, and the central role of the “besieged island” trope in Israeli culture and politics.

Running order:

  • Presentation of the book by Prof. Yael Zerubavel. 
  • Responses by Prof. Oren Yiftachel and Dr. Gil Pasternak. 
  • Q&A

This event will be chaired by Prof. Haim Yacobi (DPU, UCL) and introduced by Prof Tamar Garb (IAS, UCL).


Yael Zerubavel is Professor Emerita of Jewish Studies and History at Rutgers and was the founding director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life (1996-1918). She received her Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania, and returned to it as faculty (1988-1996). Professor Zerubavel has published extensively in the areas of collective memory, Israeli culture, war and trauma, and symbolic landscapes. Her books include the award-winning Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition (University of Chicago Press, 1995), and Desert in the Promised Land (Stanford University Press, 2019). She is currently working on her book Biblical Reenactments: The Performance of Antiquity in Israeli Culture. She has served on the boards of the Association for Jewish Studies and the association for Israel Studies and on the editorial boards of key journals in the field of Israel Studies.

All welcome. Please note that there may be photography and/or audio recording at some events and that admission is on a first come first served basis. Please follow this FAQ link for more information