Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


The concepts of literacy and illiteracy are fluid; their meanings vary according to sociocultural-political trends and language ideologies. Reflections of literacy workers about their involvement in national literacy campaigns are a source of data for such fluctuations. This paper analyzes the recollections of Israeli former soldier-teachers from the time of the campaign, and additional data collected decades later in personal interviews. Close attention to discourse strategies used in both sets of data demonstrates how changes in the structure of society, and the public discourse of identity, affect the cluster of meanings along the continuum of literacy-illiteracy.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ahearn, Laura M
    (2004) Literacy, power and agency: Love letters and development in Nepal. Language and Education18: 305-316. doi: 10.1080/09500780408666883
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09500780408666883 [Google Scholar]
  2. Arnove, Robert F. , and Harvey J. Graff
    (eds.) (2008 /1987) National Literacy Campaigns and Movements: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Baquedano-López, Patricia
    (2009) Literacy practices across learning contexts. In A. Duranti (ed.), A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 245-268.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bartlett, Lesley
    (2008) Literacy's verb: Exploring what literacy is and what literacy does. International Journal of Educational Development28.6: 737-753. doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2007.09.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2007.09.002 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bauman, Richard
    (1986) Story, Performance and Event. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511620935
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620935 [Google Scholar]
  6. Ben-Rafael, Eliezer
    (2001) The transformation of Diasporas: The linguistic dimension. In E. Ben-Rafael and Y. Sternberg (eds.), Identity, Culture and Globalization. Leiden: Brill, pp. 337-351.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Blommaert, Jan , Lies Creve , and Evita Willaert
    (2006) On being declared illiterate: Language-ideological disqualification in Dutch classes for immigrants in Belgium. Language and Communication 26: 34-54. doi: 10.1016/j.langcom.2005.03.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2005.03.004 [Google Scholar]
  8. Brosh-Vaitz, Shoshan
    (2007) Matzav ha-Oryanut be-Israel: Al Basis Mehkar le-Unesco. [The State of Literacy in Israel: Based on a Report for Unesco]. Tel Aviv: Ramot.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Cody, Francis
    (2009) Inscribing subjects to citizenship: Petitions, literacy activism, and the performativity of signature in rural Tamil India. Cultural Anthropology24.3: 347-380. doi: 10.1111/j.1548‑1360.2009.01035.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1360.2009.01035.x [Google Scholar]
  10. Collins, James , and Richard K. Blot
    (2003) Literacy and Literacies: Texts, Power, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511486661
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486661 [Google Scholar]
  11. Goffman, Erving
    (1981) Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Goldberg, Harvey E
    (2008) From Sefaradi to Mizrahi and back again: The changing meanings of the term Sefaradi in its social environments. Jewish Social Studies15: 165-188.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Goldberg, Harvey E. , and Chen Bram
    (2007) Sephardic/Mizrahi/Arab-Jews: Reflections on critical sociology and the study of Middle Eastern Jewries within the context of Israeli society. Sephardic Jewry and Mizrahi Jews. Studies in Contemporary Jewry XII: 227-256.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Golden, Deborah
    (2001) "Now, like real Israelis, let’s stand up and sing": Teaching the national language to Russian newcomers in Israel. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 32: 52-79. doi: 10.1525/aeq.2001.32.1.52
    https://doi.org/10.1525/aeq.2001.32.1.52 [Google Scholar]
  15. Harman, David
    (1987) Illiteracy: A National Dilemma. New York and Toronto: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Harshav, Benjamin
    (1993) Language in Time of Revolution. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. doi: 10.1525/california/9780520079588.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520079588.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  17. Heath, Shirley B. , and Brian V. Street
    (2008) On Ethnography: Approaches to Language and Literacy Research. New York and London: Columbia University, Teachers College Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Katriel, Tamar
    (1986) Talking Straight: Dugri Speech in Israeli Sabra Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Kodesh, Shlomo
    (ed.) (1972) Orhot 8: Haskalat Am be-Israel [Paths 8: Adult Education in Israel]. Jerusalem: The Ministry of Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Kroskrity, Paul V
    (2000) Regimenting languages: Language ideological perspectives. In P. Kroskrity (ed.), Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, pp. 1-34.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Lefkowitz, Daniel
    (2004) Words and Stones: The Politics of Language and Identity in Israel. New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Liebes, Tamar , Zohar Kampf , and Shoshana Blum-Kulka
    (2008) Saddam on CBS and Arafat on IBA: Addressing the enemy on television. Political Communication 25.3: 311-329. doi: 10.1080/10584600802197590
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600802197590 [Google Scholar]
  23. Limage, Leslie
    (2008/1987) Adult literacy policy in industrial countries. In R. Arnove and H. J. Graff (eds.), National Literacy Campaigns and Movements. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, pp. 293-313.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Ochs, Elinor
    (2009) Narrative lessons. In A. Duranti (ed.), A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 269-289.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Philipsen, Gerry , and Lisa M. Coutu
    (2005) The ethnography of speaking. In K.L. Fitch , and R.E. Sanders (eds.), Handbook of Language and Social Interaction. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Publishers, pp. 355-380.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Prins, Esther , Blaire Wilson Toso , and Kai A. Schafft
    (2009) "It feels like a little family to me": Social interaction and support among women in adult education and family literacy. Adult Education Quarterly 59.4: 335-352. doi: 10.1177/0741713609331705
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0741713609331705 [Google Scholar]
  27. Ram, Uri
    (ed.0 (1993) Ha-Hevra ha-Israelit: Hebetim Bikortiyim[Israeli Society: Critical Perspectives]. Tel Aviv: Breirot.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Ribeiro, Branca T
    (2006) Footing, positioning, voice: Are we talking about the same things?In A. De Fina , D. Schiffrin , and M. Bamberg (eds.), Discourse and Identity. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 48-82. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511584459.004
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511584459.004 [Google Scholar]
  29. Schely-Newman, Esther
    (2009) Defining success, defending failure: Functions of reported speech. Research on Language and Social Interaction42: 191-209. doi: 10.1080/08351810903089142
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08351810903089142 [Google Scholar]
  30. (2010) Constructing literate Israelis: A critical analysis of adult literacy texts. Israel Studies15: 196-214. doi: 10.2979/ISR.2010.15.2.196
    https://doi.org/10.2979/ISR.2010.15.2.196 [Google Scholar]
  31. Shafir, Gershon , and Yoav Peled
    (2002) Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship. New York, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139164641
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139164641 [Google Scholar]
  32. Shohamy, Elana
    (2006) Language Policy: Hidden Agenda and New Approaches. Abington, UK: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Shohamy, Elana , and Tzahi Kanza
    (2009) Citizenship, language and nationality in Israel. In E. Guss , M. Spotti and P. van Avermatt (eds.), Language Testing, Migration and Citizenship: Cross National Perspective. New York and London: Continuum International Publishing Group, pp. 242-260.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Shohat, Ella
    (2003) Rupture and return: Zionist discourse and the study of Arab-Jews. Social Text 75: 49-74. doi: 10.1215/01642472‑21‑2_75‑49
    https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-21-2_75-49 [Google Scholar]
  35. Shokeid, Moshe
    (2001) On the sins we did not commit in the research of Oriental Jews. Israel Studies 6: 15-33. doi: 10.2979/ISR.2001.6.1.15
    https://doi.org/10.2979/ISR.2001.6.1.15 [Google Scholar]
  36. Silverstein, Michael
    (1992) The indeterminacy of contextualization: When enough is enough?In A. DiLuzion and P. Auer (eds.), The Contextualization of Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp.55-75. doi: 10.1075/pbns.22.05sil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.22.05sil [Google Scholar]
  37. (1998) The uses and utilities of ideology: A commentary. In B.B. Schieffelin , K.A. Woolard , and P.V. Kroskrity (eds.), Language Ideologies, Practice and Theory. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 123-145.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Smooha, Sami
    (2008) The mass migration to Israel: A comparison of the failure of the Mizrahi immigrants of the 1950s with the success of the Russian immigrants of the 1990s. Journal of Israeli History27: 1-27. doi: 10.1080/13531040801902708
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13531040801902708 [Google Scholar]
  39. Spolsky, Bernard , and Elana Shohamy
    (1999) The Languages of Israel: Policy, Ideology and Practice. Clevedon, Buffalo, Toronto, Sydney: Multilingual Matters Ltd.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Tollefson, James W
    (2006) Critical theory in language policy. In T. Ricento (ed.), An Introduction to Language Policy: Theory and Method. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 42-59.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Violi, Patricia
    (1985) Letters. In T.A. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse and Literature. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp.149-168. doi: 10.1075/ct.3.10vio
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ct.3.10vio [Google Scholar]
  42. Wagner, Ina , and Ruth Wodak
    (2006) Performing success: Identifying strategies of self-presentation in women’s autobiographical narratives. Discourse and Society3: 385-411. doi: 10.1177/0957926506060251
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926506060251 [Google Scholar]
  43. Wortham, Stanton
    (2001) Narratives in Action: A Strategy for Research and Analysis. New York and London: Teachers College, Columbia University.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Wortham, Stanton , and Vivian Gadsden
    (2006) Urban fathers positioning themselves through narrative: An approach to narrative self-construction. In A. De Fina , D. Schiffrin , and M. Bamberg (eds.), Discourse and Identity. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 314-341. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511584459.016
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511584459.016 [Google Scholar]
  45. Yeshurun, Yitzhak
    , Director (1966) Biur Haba'arut. Fifteen-minute documentary on "Operation Eradicate Ignorance." Israel Government Information Office (Hebrew with French subtitles). Research Internet site: adultliteracy.huji.ac.il (Hebrew).
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Discourse strategies; Hebrew; Israel; Language ideologies; Literacy; Narratives
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error