This paper deals with the way migrants’ children process the trans-generational trauma of immigration and examines its impact on the formation of their self-identity. It explores the manifestation of this trauma as present in two highly-notable works by Mizrahi cinematographers. The memory unfolding in these films is a penetrating audio-visual testimony to the immigration trauma with the mark it has left on the psyches and identities of migrants’ children. It argues that the split identity that is a product of both Israeli assimilationist and Mizrahi resistance inhabits the continuum between mourning and melancholy, grief and grievance. Along this continuum, immigrant subjects engage in intergenerational negotiations between mourning and melancholy, while their ethnic melancholy emerges as an alternative mental state to the Eurocentric hegemony.
While the vast scholarly fields of modern Jewish thought and modern Jewish intellectual history effectively include no texts by Jews who are of non-European origin, the domain of modern Middle Eastern intellectual history includes no writings by native Middle Eastern Jews. Aiming to help remedy this dual void, this article presents the core premises and argumentation of several pre-1936 Middle Eastern Jewish intellectuals. In filling in some of the contours and details of this rich—but significantly underexplored—history, it posits that a distinct Jewish intellectual school that unambiguously understood itself to be quintessentially Middle Eastern has been present since the beginning of European Zionism in the late nineteenth century. What contemporary scholars commonly recognise as post-1970s Mizrahi (Eastern) thought is thus better understood as an outgrowth of a Middle Eastern Jewish intellectual formation predating 1948.
This essay proposes a new approach to Mizrahi literature by re-examining the socioconceptual relation between Mizrahisubalternity and the state of Israel. Examining the recent post-Zionist/postcolonial criticism, I argue that its literary categories and social analysis conceive of the Mizrahi only through the medium and form of the state and only in so far as its ‘culture’ procures it with an alternative content for Israeli Eurocentric nationalism. Such a ‘statist’ and national articulation of the Mizrahi, critical as it might be, confuses the conditions of Mizrahi cultural identity and legitimate speech whose site is civil society with the conditions of subalternity produced in the Israeli social formation as a whole, and thus ends up misconceiving the Mizrahisubaltern and its literary appearance. Since Mizrahisubalternity emerges in social and discursive fields that cannot be rendered in such a ‘statist’ language, it thus holds alternative knowledge and forms that both reveal the conceptual limits of the post-Zionist stance and allow for a new interpretive approach to Mizrahi literature. However, since canonical Mizrahi literature – as with most recent Mizrahi criticism – has always imagined the Mizrahi in statist terms, I argue that this alternative language and knowledge does not exist as such in Mizrahi literature, but only in a displaced form as its unconscious. To provide an example for such a new interpretation and approach, I offer a reading of Shimon Ballas’s The Transit Camp.
Early Zionist discourse was ripe with constructions of a new Jewish
identity. Discussing responses to the so-called Uganda plan of 1903–5
and notions of Jewish colonisation in Africa and elsewhere, the article
investigates demarcations of Jewishness from, and identifications with,
‘blackness’ in the early twentieth-century German Zionist press and
literature and their impact on the Zionist imaginary vis-à-vis
the colonial paradigm. Particular attention is given to Max Jungmann’s
‘Briefe aus Neu-Neuland’, published in the satiric journal Schlemiel
between 1903–7. It is argued that with his fictitious account of the
Zionist settlement of East Africa (which historically never happened)
and with the creation of the black African Mbwapwa Jumbo and his
conversion to Judaism Jungmann articulates an intricate and critical
response to colonial aspirations, Jewish or otherwise, and formulates a
scathing but highly perceptive commentary on the convergence of Zionist,
racial, and colonial discourses.