Israel Studies Seminar - When Climate Takes Command: Jewish-Zionist Scientific Approaches to Climate in Palestine


In my talk at the Israel Studies Seminar, I will present my doctoral research which occupies the intersection between modern Jewish history, climate and environmental history, the history of knowledge, and colonial history. My talk focuses on Jewish physicians, architects, and botanists as they examined the potential ramifications of climate on the success of the Zionist project in Palestine between 1900 and 1948. Through the prism of climate, I explore the ways in which Jewish experts transported scientific knowledge from Europe and its colonies to Palestine. In addition to analysing the transfer of knowledge concerning climate, I also explore the role of climate – both as an abstract concept and a concrete condition – in shaping Jewish national, racial, cultural, and spatial identity in Palestine.

About the speaker:
Netta Cohen is a Dphil candidate at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine in the University of Oxford. She is currently a doctoral fellow at the Center for Jewish History in New York City and a research affiliate at the Taub Center for Israel Studies in NYU. Between 2014 and 2015 she was a fellow at the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Centre in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she researched the private papers of Heinrich Mendelssohn, a renowned Zoologist and pioneer of Environmental thought in Israel. A peer-reviewed article by Cohen will be published in 2018. (“Memories of a Zoologist: Reflections on the Role of the Archive in the Production of Knowledge and Memory”, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, 17, 2018).