Kahanoff’s Levantinism: The Anachronic Possibilities of a Concept
Eva Meyer, Eran Schaerf
The modern nation-state is supposed to be ethnically and culturally homogenous; after World War II, both Israel’s implementation of Zionism and Arab Nationalism adopted versions of this purism—purging and excluding from the body social what refuses assimilation. After the Six-Day War, the Egyptian-born Israeli writer Jacqueline Kahanoff deployed the notion of Levantinism to challenge the national narrative from a minoritarian perspective informed by her memories of colonial Cairo. In engaging with Kahanoff’s Levantine writings, Eva Meyer and Eran Schaerf seek to re-examine her Levantinism not as a readymade solution, but as a complex and cogent—albeit compromised—problematization of the state as we know it.