“Small Sales Agents (of Nationalism) Inside the House”: Childhood, Consumer Culture, and Nationalism in the Jewish Yishuv of Interwar Palestine
- The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2019
- pp. 88-112
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This article sheds light on the historical relationship among childhood, the capitalist consumer culture, and nationalism in the Yishuv (the Jewish community) of Mandatory Palestine between the two world wars. It looks at contemporary advertisements and campaigns that targeted children in order to determine whether the cultural category of child-as-consumer, free to choose among products, had by then already emerged in the Jewish urban middle class. The findings demonstrate that standard commercial campaigns, which marketed products intended for children, usually addressed their pitch to parents and not to the children themselves. But there was one major exception: the campaigns for responsible nationalist consumerism—“buy Jewish”—did not hesitate to exploit contemporary Western marketing strategies to manipulate and tempt children directly, so that they would pressure their parents to buy only local, Jewish-produced goods. Nationalism was therefore a central element in consumer culture’s penetration of the Yishuv of British Mandate Palestine.