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Debating Natalism: Israeli One-Woman Shows on Experiencing Childlessness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 April 2019


Natalism constitutes one of the main values of Israeli society, to the extent that the state’s explicit policy is to encourage and heavily finance childbearing. Whatever the reasons for this pronatalist ideology may be – religious, cultural, or politico-demographic – the fact is that, in twenty-first century Israel, motherhood is still considered a biological imperative; and a Jewish-Israeli woman’s reproductive body is implicitly mobilized for national needs. Against the backdrop of this persistent pro-birth agenda, in this study Dror Harari and Gillit Kroul discuss a noteworthy number of recently staged one-woman shows that critically debate the Israeli ‘fertility religion’ and the physical and emotional distress that it causes for the infertile and childfree woman. These autobiographical performances of infertility are seen as a sub-genre of Israeli critical disability performance, in that they manifest the idea that what defines the infertile as disabled is not (only) the woman’s biological deficiency but, rather, her inability to fulfil her national gendered role. Dror Harari is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Theatre Arts, Tel Aviv University. His Self-Performance: Performance Art and the Representation of Self was published in Hebrew by Resling Publications (2014), and his current research, funded by the Israel Science Foundation, focuses on the historiography of performance art in Israel from its origins in the 1960s and through the 1970s. Gillit Kroul has an MA in Theatre Studies from Tel Aviv University. Her book of poetry When the Sea Seeds its Hopes is published by Sa’ar Publications, and her short semi-autobiographical play in Hebrew Shnayim (Two), based on her experience of fertility treatment, is available at <>.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press 2019 

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