New Article: Oppenheimer, On the Becoming of the Mizrahi Male Body

Oppenheimer, Yochai. “On the Becoming of the Mizrahi Male Body.” Orbis Litterarum 69.1 (2014): 23-56.

 

URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/oli.12018/abstract

 

Abstract

The representation of the Mizrahi male body in Israeli culture differentiates between the Western Ashkenazi body, which served as the standard of fitness and hygiene and of social functionality, and the Oriental Mizrahi body which, in hegemonic perspective, represented the defective, dangerous opposite of these qualities.

 In this context, I find it appropriate to use the concepts defined by Deleuze and Guattari about the body and its variety of emerging forms, which they understand not only as multifaceted forms of resistance to institutional imprint on the body but also as ways of creating flexible and multifaceted alternative possibilities of bodily experience. These concepts may well signify a place where Mizrahim themselves conduct a subversive literary discourse about Mizrahi corporeality, while deconstructing the hegemonic narrative framework related to the Mizrahi body. Dan-Benaya Seri (Misha’el) blurs the boundaries between men and women – as well as between humans and animals. Albert Suissa (Akud) elaborates on a new language of gestures and body positions that repudiates any meaningful interpretation. Mizrahi writing refused to reproduce the national Zionist Israeli body and was instead attentive to the living body and its multiple possibilities of becoming.

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