Thursday Lecture Series: Observation and Obfuscation

Envisioning the Kibbutz: Americans and Israeli Cooperatives in the 1960s and 1970s

Thursday, The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

In the late 1960s, tens of thousands of American toured, sojourned, or moved permanently to a kibbutz in Israel. These communal and cooperative agricultural communities captured the imaginations of Americans for a variety of reasons.  Some sought out the kibbutz as a symbol of Zionism, or an experiment in communal living, or simply a curious feature of modern Israel.  But for a number of Americans, the kibbutz offered up the promise of economic independence and prosperity at a moment of increasing economic crisis.  This lecture explores how Israel’s kibbutzim became embedded into the developmentalist designs of Africans Americans in the 1960s and 70s.  At the height of the Black Power era, and amidst rising anxieties about “black Jewish relations,” a prominent group of US civil rights leaders, Jewish American groups, and Israeli policymakers sought to extract the kibbutz from its Zionist roots and plant it into the soil of the American South.

Guest lecturer: Nicole Sackley, University of Richmond
Associate Professor of History and American Studies