This event launched Sovereign Intimacy Private: Media and the Traces of Colonial Violence (University of California Press, 2023) by Laliv Melamed. Alisa Lebow, Kareem Estefan, Patrick Brian Smith and Daniel Mann responded to the book.
In the early 1990s, Israeli television began dedicating Memorial Day air time to videos produced by the grieving families of soldiers killed in the line of duty. When these videos first appeared during a period of growing Israeli discontent with the occupation of southern Lebanon, they were widely perceived as a challenge to the state, reclaiming the dead from Israel’s militaristic memory culture by resituating them in intimate domestic contexts via mediated commemorations.
By tracing an emerging private media system of freelance filmmaking, privatized television, state institutes of care, and grassroots campaigns, Laliv Melamed reveals how these videos nevertheless evade a fundamental critique of Israeli militarism, which is instead invited into the familiar space of the home. These intimate connections of memory and media exploit bonds of kinship and reshape larger relationships between the state and its citizens, enabling a collective disavowal of colonial violence. In Sovereign Intimacy, Laliv Melamed offers a poignant and critical view of the weaponisation of home media and mourning in service of the neoliberal settler state.