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Marginal At the Center: The Life Story of a Public Sociologist

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Marginal At the Center

The Life Story of a Public Sociologist

Baruch Kimmerling
Translated from the Hebrew by Diana Kimmerling

258 pages, 13 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-720-2 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (June 2012)

eISBN 978-0-85745-751-6 eBook

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“What a wonderful read Baruch Kimmerling’s memoir is! [it takes] us from Kimmerling’s childhood in Romania, including his dramatic escape in 1944 on a horse-drawn carriage dodging a roundup of Jews in his hometown, to his final months in Jerusalem. His account, expertly translated by his wife Diana, is not a chronological story but one in which personal vignettes serve as launching pads for explorations of Israeli society and academia.” · The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms

“Some of the chapters… which describe his life as a public sociologist in Israel-Palestine, could well be read by sociologists in Northern Ireland, South Africa and other conflict zones as a lesson in how to use sociology to try to make a difference.” · Magazine of the British Sociological Association


A self-proclaimed guerrilla fighter for ideas, Baruch Kimmerling was an outspoken critic, a prolific writer, and a “public” sociologist. While he lived at the center of the Israeli society in which he was involved as both a scientist and a concerned citizen, he nevertheless felt marginal because of his unconventional worldview, his empathy for the oppressed, and his exceptional sense of universal justice, which were at odds with prevailing views. In this autobiography, the author, who was born in Transylvania in 1939 with cerebral palsy, describes how he and his family escaped the Nazis and the circumstances that brought them to Israel, the development of his understanding of Israeli and Palestinian histories, of the narratives each society tells itself, and of the implacable “situation”—along with predictions of some of the most disturbing developments that are taking place right now as well as solutions he hoped were still possible. Kimmerling’s deep concern for Israel's well-being, peace, and success also reveals that he was in effect a devoted Zionist, contrary to the claims of his detractors. He dreamed of a genuinely democratic Israel, a country able to embrace all of its citizens without discrimination and to adopt peace as its most important objective. It is to this dream that this posthumous translation from Hebrew has been dedicated.

Baruch Kimmerling was Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His many publications include The Invention and Decline of Israeliness (University of California Press, 2001); A History of the Palestinian People (with Joel S. Migdal, Harvard University Press, 2003); and Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies (Columbia University Press, 2008).

Subject: Sociology Jewish Studies
Area: Middle East & Israel


Introduction: A Guerilla Fighter for Ideas


Chapter 1. So that the child would not understand
Chapter 2. Fleeing
Chapter 3. Fantasies
Chapter 4. Ariel and Michael
Chapter 5. The Transylvania was not the Roslan
Chapter 6. The Library


Chapter 7. At the Dormitories
Chapter 8. Adam
Chapter 9. My Body's Betrayal
Chapter 10. Diana


Chapter 11. March 6th, 1969
Chapter 12. The Department
Chapter 13. On Zionism
Chapter 14. Between Boston and Toronto
Chapter 15. On One Hand and on the Other Hand
Chapter 16. Ancestors’ Sepulchers and Sons’ Graves
Chapter 17. About The Nuclear Issue
Chapter 18. This Constitution is Prostitution
Chapter 19. The Mouse that Roared
Chapter 20. State Option
Chapter 21. The Right to Resist the Occupation
Chapter 22. Kulturkampf
Chapter 23. Politicians
Chapter 24. Between Despair and Hope

In Lieu of a Conclusion: Question Marks

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