Cultivating the reasonable hiloni self: a case of secular self-fashioning?

By Stacey Gutkowski
Submitted to Session P4413 (Religion and Secularism in Palestine and Israel, 2016 Annual Meeting
The Levant;
As a contribution to conceptual debates over 'the secular', particularly its emotional dimensions, I look at practices of self-fashioning, particularly the cultivation and performance of the self as ‘reasonable’. Using the case of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I argue that ‘secular’ self-fashioning may sometimes have little to do with individuals engaging the secular-religious boundary in a particular society through processes of self-differentiation. I also argue that hiloni cultivation of reasonableness is an emotio-political outcome of a long-standing and unresolved ideological problem within Zionist thought. Reasonableness is not simply an emotional practice of self-cultivation but has also facilitated and rendered opaque practices of Israeli state sovereignty over many aspects of Palestinian life. Secularity has facilitated sovereign governance of Palestinian social life but not through political secularism per se, which further illuminates the intersection between individual ‘secular affect’ and state sovereignty.