Resonant Ancestors: Arab Jewish Memory on the Israeli Stage
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CitationSella, Tamar. 2020. Resonant Ancestors: Arab Jewish Memory on the Israeli Stage. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation reflects on the resonance of Mizrahi history in the present through contemporary performance in Israel/Palestine. Mizrahi (literally “Eastern”) is a social formation that contracts and expands to incorporate different orientalized Jewish ethnic groups In Israel who emigrated largely from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans. Making up the majority of the Jewish population in Israel, Mizrahim have been subject to systemic economic and cultural oppression and erasure at the hands of an Ashkenazi, or Jewish European, establishment and status quo since at least the founding of the state, and up to the present day, despite repeated claims that initial disparities are a thing of the past.
In case studies that draw from my ethnographic work with young performers in Israel/Palestine, I ask two questions: Which Mizrahi stories considered to be of the past continue to resonate in the present? And in what less-than-obvious ways do they manifest? By examining the National Sound Archive in the National Library of Israel, the story of Moroccan Jewish singer Zohra El Fassia in the peripheral south of Israel, and the expansive concept of queer Mizrahi diaspora, I situate displacement and migration as key elements of histories that continue to linger in the present day. Within the scope of performance, I attend to the specific mechanisms by which countermemories not easily legible make their way to the surface, considering the performers’ animation of the fugitive quality of recorded ethnographic sounds, the performative valences of the space and materiality of land, and the alternative memory within embodied practice. Ultimately, I look to the ways in which these resonant histories of migration and displacement are animated through contemporary performance toward practicing, forming, and articulating alternative lives and futures in Israel/Palestine.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37366009
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