Orientation to the nation: a phenomenology of media and diaspora

Lavi, Eyal. 2012. Orientation to the nation: a phenomenology of media and diaspora. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the mediation of the nation-state as a dimension of the diasporic experience of place. It focuses on the consumption of mass-media about Israel or originating from it by people residing outside of the country. I understand this mediation to take place continuously throughout the day, in multiple spaces, through different technologies. As such, it forms part of the experience of place in media- saturated (urban) environments, allowing for a distant nation-state to become embedded in daily routines. In order to theorise this experience, I draw on Merleau- Ponty’s phenomenology, which understands place through embodied perception and habit, and on studies of diaspora and media, which examine the social meanings and uses of media among specific transnational groups. This qualitative project is based on a researcher-absent exercise and extended interviews with British Jews and Israeli immigrants in London. Analysis reveals that orientation includes four areas of practice: investing and withdrawing emotions as part of managing ‘care’, searching for truth, distinguishing between ordinary and extraordinary time, and domesticating media. Some of these practices may be particular to the case of Israel, but some are shaped by discourses around insecurity, rather than Zionism itself. Others appear to be related to experiences of migration and diaspora in general. I argue that these practices are ‘orientational practices’ in which people endeavour to make sense of spatial positioning through negotiating distance and controlling media. I theorise media as ‘orientation devices’ in diasporic everyday life, but ones that are unstable, contested and reflected upon, and hence never fully habituated. The resulting experience is one of increased reflexivity about everyday place and, paradoxically, increased dependency on media for orientation. I conclude by suggesting that practices of orientation point to a mode of being in place in globalisation that is not sufficiently addressed by the dominant understanding of ‘belonging’.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


Israel, diaspora, London, mass media, phenomenology, immigration, globalisation, Zionism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


3 March 2012

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2013 09:20

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 11:18



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