Sweet nationalism in bitter days: A commercial representation of Zionism

Anat First, Tamar Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article identifies several theoretical approaches to the role of culture in the construction of national identity. Embedded in the presently emerging approach, which emphasises the relations between popular culture/consumerism and national identity, this study focuses on a specific consumer good manufactured in Israel in the early 2000s, the height of the second Palestinian Intifada (uprising): small sugar packets bearing portraits of the patriarchs of Zionism. The analysis of this product, employing semiotic analysis, interviews and focus groups, locates it in the five 'moments' of du Gay's 'circuit of culture' (i.e. identity, representation, production, consumption and regulation). Three main gen e ral arguments were stated, empirically examined and largely sustained: (1) Consumer goods are used not only for constructing national identity but also as a means for 'healing' it; (2) in their 'healing' capacity, representations of nationalism on consumer goods do not add new elements to representations offered by the 'high' official version of nationalism but replicate them in a simplified way; (3) while trivialising the insights and concepts that originated in 'high' culture, consumer goods expose the prejudices, stereotypes and rules of inclusion and exclusion that in 'high' culture are often hidden in a sophisticated manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-523
Number of pages18
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009


  • Circuit of culture
  • Consumerism
  • Nationalidentity
  • Popularculture products
  • Representation
  • Zionism


Dive into the research topics of 'Sweet nationalism in bitter days: A commercial representation of Zionism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this