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Theory and Society

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 91–116 | Cite as

Israel in the Poconos: simulating the nation in a Zionist summer camp

  • Dan Lainer-Vos
Article

Abstract

This article develops a theory of simulation as a nation building mechanism by exploring the production of national belonging in Massad, a Jewish-American summer camp that operated in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, between 1941 and 1981. Trying to inspire campers to Zionism, the camp organizers shaped Massad as a “mini Israel.” This simulation engendered national attachments by lending credence to the belief that others, in Israel, experience more authentic national belonging. Rather than tempting campers to imagine the nation as a “horizontal camaraderie” (Anderson 1991), national simulations allow members to account for their distinct and often ambivalent position from within the nation. From this perspective, nation building is not simply a matter of relativizing internal differences and dramatizing differences between the groups that make up the nation and “outsiders.” Instead, nation building also is centrally a matter of creating institutional routines and practices that allow members to account for their differential position from within the nation.

Keywords

Nation-building Ethnicity as cognition Diaspora Simulation as a social process Vicarious belonging Zionism 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article benefited from the readings of many friends and colleagues. I am particularly indebted to Gil Eyal, Peter Bearman, William McAllister, Robert Zussman, Don Tomaskovic-Devey, Paul Lichterman, Nina Eliasoph, Bruce Zuckerman, Yuval Feinstein, and the reviewers of Theory and Society for their support and their helpful comments on previous drafts of this article.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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