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Title: “In the end, we’re neither here nor there. And yet we’re almost there”: Disidentification Among Ethiopian Jewish Israelis
Authors: Anisfeld, Talia
Advisors: Lederman, Rena
Department: Anthropology
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: Ethiopian Jews make up a small but significant portion of the Israeli population. Their arrival in the State of Israel, primarily between the 1980s and the early 2000s, was seen as the fulfillment of an ancient longing. Yet the promise of this return has been complicated and compromised by the persistent realities of discrimination, violence, and racism that they have faced – and continue to face – as they negotiate their place in contemporary Israeli society. This thesis is based on ethnographic work that I conducted in the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel in the summer and winter of 2019-2020, in the wake of the police killing of 18-year-old Solomon Teka and explores the paradoxes of identity and belonging with which Ethiopian Jews in Israel wrestle today. I examine various implications of the stories and perspectives I heard from my interlocutors: for their evolving relationship to Zionism and Israeliness; for the possibilities of political solidarity across racial, religious, and national boundaries; and for the construct of community. In these explorations, I center Ethiopian Jews’ embodiments of disidentification: the creative, flexible, and ambivalent ways in which they simultaneously act on, with, and against various codified narratives of belonging. I try to illuminate the ways in which this process can allow narratives to become sites of expansion rather than erasure: the ways in which stories can become spaces of great potential – spaces that, if broken open through the work of deep listening, can hold and reflect the contradictions and rough edges of lived experience, and make room for new realities to emerge.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology, 1961-2020

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