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Accepted Papers:

The Borders of Community: Ethiopian-Israelis in a Mixed Jewish-Palestinian City  


Joel Hart (University of Oxford)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper explores the material and social production of urban borders in the context of communal production. It explores this through the relationship between reification, socialisation, and urban subjectivity amongst Ethiopian-Israeli Jews in the mixed Jewish-Palestinian city of Jaffa.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the material and social production of urban borders amongst Ethiopian-Israelis in a mixed Jewish-Palestinian city in contemporary Israel. Municipal governance regimes reify the Ethiopian population into a homogenous moral kehila (community), and socialise them into particular dati leumi (national-religious) networks. This is accompanied by discourses generated by veteran residents that stigmatise areas populated by Ethiopians. Yet ordinary Ethiopian residents voice criticisms of quotidian racism and produce new materialisations in the urban landscape — such as 2Pac graffiti tags and Ahmaric signed shops. This rearticulates borders, producing deterritorializations of urban space that run counter to the reifying narrative of kehila, as well as dominant conceptions of makom (Jewish place). As bordering is the default modality in a society hyper-aware of ethnonational and ethnic distinctions, borders are paradoxically both the source of urban segregation, and of the cultivation of distinctive urban subjectivities marking cultural and political reinvention.

panel U04
Urban borderlands at the crossroads of anthropology and geography: spatiality, perceptions and social reproduction in a multiscalar perspective