A Place for Care: Care, Citizenship and Boundary work in stillborn Burial in Israel
(Tel Aviv University)
Paper short abstract:
keywords: Ethics of care, Citizenship, Body Politics, Motherhood, Boundary work.
Paper long abstract:
Care is usually seen as a practice or action directed towards a living being or a group of people. When there is a demand for state's care and protection, we tend to think about welfare systems or different categories of citizens or "non- citizens". But what happens when the state doesn't "care" for a certain category of being? And how can these categories be perceived within state logic on the one hand, and challenged by the "border beings" they have created on the other hand? In my research, I interviewed a group of Jewish-Israeli women whose stillborns were buried in an unmarked mass grave. These women appealed to the District Court, demanding that the court denounces mass burial and will recognize the wrongs the mothers have suffered. I show how these mothers try to translocate state boundaries around "Body politic" categories of motherhood and citizenship. This is done within boundary work that makes use of the Israeli- Jewish state conceptions around honored burial, death hierarchies, "Kinship Ideologies" and the right to citizenship. These mothers position their claim deep within the Israeli- Jewish state logic of bodies worth of respect and honor. Making a place for their stillborns, and themselves as their mothers, is done by positioning the desired categories as integral to the Jewish- Israeli state. Through forms of suffering concerning the mass grave that the mothers present in their words, I will show how care can be reconstructed in places where it's primary means not always exist.
Silences of/and mobility: towards an anthropology of the unspoken and unspeakable