Dissertation: Hankins | Black Musics, African Lives, and the National Imagination in Modern Israel

Hankins, Sarah Elizabeth. Black Musics, African Lives, and the National Imagination in Modern Israel. PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, 2015.

 
URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/17467531

 
Abstract

“Black Musics, African Lives, and the National Imagination in Modern Israel,” explores the forms and functions of African and Afro-diasporic musics amidst heated public debate around ethnic identity and national membership. Focusing on musical-political activity among Ethiopian Israeli citizens, Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, and West African labor migrants in Tel Aviv, I examine how diverse types of musicking, from nightclub DJing and live performance to church services and protest concerts, voice African and Afro-descendent claims to civic status in a fractured urban environment. Grounded in ethnographic participant observation, the dissertation analyzes musical and political activity through the lens of “interpretive modes” that shape contemporary Israel’s national consciousness, and which influence African and Afro-descendant experiences within Israeli society. These include “Israeliyut,” or the valorization of so-called native Israeli cultural forms and histories; “Africani,” an emerging set of aesthetic and social values that integrates African and Afro-descendent subjectivities into existing frameworks of Israeli identity; and “glocali,” or the effort to reconcile local Israeli experience with aspects of globalization.

Tracing “blackness” as an ideological and aesthetic category through five decades of public discourse and popular culture, I examine the disruptions to this category precipitated by Israel’s 21st century encounter with African populations. I find that the dynamics of debate over African presence influence an array of mass-cultural processes, including post-Zionism, conceptions of ethnic “otherness,” and the splintering of Israel’s left into increasingly narrow interest groups. Contributing to the literature on continuity and change within urban-dwelling African diasporas, this dissertation is the first monograph exploring dramatic transformations of Israel’s highly consolidated national culture through in-depth ethnography with migrant groups.

 

 

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New Article: Kalir, Moral Obligation and Fearism in the Treatment of African Asylum Seekers in Israel

Kalir, Barak. “The Jewish State of Anxiety: Between Moral Obligation and Fearism in the Treatment of African Asylum Seekers in Israel.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies [early view online, prior to printed version]

 

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1369183X.2014.960819

 

Abstract

Since 2005 around 60,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered Israel by crossing the border from Egypt. Notwithstanding the Jewish history of persecution, and Israel being a signatory to the UN Convention for the protection of refugees, modern Israel systematically refuses to grant a refugee status to asylum seekers. Since 2012, the tenacious hostile approach of Israeli policy-makers and state-agents towards asylum seekers has resulted in an outburst of racist verbal and physical attacks against them. This article analyses the socio-legal location of asylum seekers in Israel by examining how their position is articulated by different parties, deploying competing discourses of human rights, citizenship, security and sovereignty. The article advances that appeals—mostly made by critical non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists and academics—to human rights, Jewish morals and historic sensitivities are beguiling; while they arouse hopes for compassion and moral obligation, they are also used by mainstream Israeli politicians to justify the exclusion and deportation of so-called ‘African infiltrators’. A hegemonic ideology of ‘fearism’—which brands the Israeli national narrative and informs the notion of citizenship among Jewish Israelis—leads to the construction of asylum seekers as abject Others, who pose a threat to the Jewish state and to Jews’ own right for secured citizenship.

New Article: Hankins, Multidimensional Israeliness and Tel Aviv’s Tachanah Merkazit

Hankins, Sarah. “Multidimensional Israeliness and Tel Aviv’s Tachanah Merkazit: Hearing Culture in a Polyphonic Transit Hub.” City & Society 25.3 (2013): 282-303.

 

URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ciso.12023/abstract

 

Abstract

Israel’s heated public debate over the socio-political implications of increasing demographic diversity plays out with special prominence in Tel Aviv, home to large minority citizen populations and a destination for foreign workers and refugees from Asia and Africa. The city’s New Central Bus Station, or tachanah merkazit, is a transit hub and commercial complex in which multiple ethnic groups enact aesthetic and cultural dimensions of Israeli urban and national identity in flux. This paper presents a sensory ethnography of the tachanah: sonic and musical expressions of “local” and “global” Israeliness are analyzed against a backdrop of near-constant motion and transit. The somatic and ideological dimensions of movement enable Jewish Israelis, minority citizens and foreigners to assimilate sounds of culture within the tachanah at deeply-felt, personal levels. The tachanah’s sonic activity is inherently political, having the potential to impact collective identity and civic reality in Tel Aviv and across Israel

Cite: Marom and Yacobi, Cultural Diversity Policy in Tel Aviv

Marom, Nathan & Haim Yacobi. “‘Culture Capital for All’? Cultural Diversity Policy in Tel Aviv and its Limits.” Mediterranean Politics 18.1 (2013): 60-77.

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13629395.2012.745709

Abstract

This article critically analyses cultural diversity policy in Tel Aviv–Jaffa in relation to non-Jewish labour migrant communities and to Palestinian citizens of Israel residing in Jaffa. It focuses on recent incorporation of cultural diversity into city policy in its ‘City Vision’ and ‘Global City’ initiatives and in three specific areas (festivities, libraries and museum of city history). The article argues that despite the introduction and initial institutionalization of cultural diversity in Tel Aviv, there are unresolved contradictions when city policies encounter the ethnocratic boundaries set by Israel’s policies.