11 Chapters
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3: Doing Dimona: An Americanist Anthropologist in an Africanized Israel

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

John L. Jackson Jr.

I NEVER EXPECTED to conduct any research in Israel. Even though I first heard about the discipline of anthropology’s ostensible biases against studying “at home” while I was still just an undergraduate (matter-of-fact pronouncements about the ways in which some of the differences between anthropology and sociology pivoted on this very issue of geographic specialization), I have always been committed to the idea of conducting anthropological research in the United States. My work has focused on issues of identity and community, mass mediation and racial politics, social difference and cultural conflict in contemporary urban America, specifically in poor “ghetto” neighborhoods like Harlem, New York.2 As a graduate student, this decision to study West Harlem instead of, say, West Africa meant negotiating departmental hallways and stairwells rife with frowning cautions from senior faculty who felt that I was setting myself up for professional failure, for a long life of unemployment. Anthropology departments don’t hire Americanists, they argued. Sociology departments do.

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4: Seeking Truth in Hip-Hop Music and Hip-Hop Ethnography

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Uri Dorchin

IT WAS BACK in 1997 when a friend, a music promoter and arranger from Tel Aviv, called to tell me about a new CD he described as a pioneering project by a group of local rappers. “We must support them, rasta,” he said with his typical enthusiasm, probably thinking about the radio program I was hosting at that time, where I was playing mostly roots and dancehall reggae. The fact that it was no more than a marginal radio station, located in the northern part of the country, did not make his commitment to black music waver in the least. “As soon as you get to Tel Aviv, rasta,” he started to explain, “inside the central bus station, fourth floor, look for Chulu at the Mad-Man fashion shop.”

Two weeks later I found myself walking in circles in the labyrinth-like dirty central bus station looking for Chulu and his shop. Finally I found it, small and empty, toward the end of a side corridor. Shiny colored track suits were hanging on the walls, alongside baggy jeans, beanies and cup hats, belts and other stuff that left no room for a mistake as to who was the target crowd. Chulu, a polite guy in his mid-20s, was happy to serve me a copy of the CD; the homemade cover featured the curious title Israelim Atzbanim (Nervous Israelis). He himself appeared to be the musical producer of the project, and contributor to three tracks on the album. The other contributors, rappers such as Cottage, Jeremy Cool-Habash, Lil Don and Subliminal were still teenagers whose love for hip-hop, an uncommon phenomenon back then, brought them to Chulu’s place. For them Mad-Man was more than just about clothes; it was a hidden headquarters, a meeting place for their secret union, a base to built a dream on.1 Practically it was a place where they could exchange ideas, practice rap techniques, and finally, record their music, as they dreamt to be heard in public one day. The premature projects they created there, which I still sometimes play for an audience, are recognized today as the cornerstone of the Israeli hip-hop scene.

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8: On the Matter of Return to Israel/Palestine: Autoethnographic Reflections

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Jasmin Habib

What the map cuts up, the story cuts across. In Greek, narration is called “diegesis”; it establishes an itinerary (it “guides”) and it passes through it (it “transgresses”). The space of operations in which it travels is made of movements: it is topological, concerning the deformations of figures, rather than topical, defining places. It is only ambivalently that the story circumscribes in this space. It plays a double game. It does the opposite of what it says. It hands the place over to the foreigner that gives the impression of throwing out. Or rather, when it marks a stopping place, the latter is not stable but follows the variations of encounters between programs. Boundaries are transportable limits and transportation of limits; they are also metaphorai

—de Certeau 1984: 129; also cited by Conley 2001: 491–92

Children of refugees inherit their parents’ knowledge of the fragility of place, their suspicion of the notion of home

—Hirsch and Spitzer 2003: 93

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9: Some Kind of Masochist? Fieldwork in Unsettling Territory

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Joyce Dalsheim

Here we are, standing on the corner of “Walk, Don’t Walk.” You look away from me, tryin’ not to catch my eye, but you didn’t turn fast enough, did you? You don’t like my raspy voice, do you? I got this raspy voice ’cause I have to yell all the time ’cause nobody around here LISTENS to me.

—Trudy

HANNAH’S VOICE IS not yet raspy like Trudy’s, the bag lady in Jane Wagner’s 1985 play, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Standing at her own intersection of “Walk, Don’t Walk,” Hannah is being quiet, busy listening and observing. About to cross into dangerous territory, she feels the fear rising up inside of her.

Hannah has come from a beautiful, sunny place where it rarely rains; a place where people are committed to growing crops in sandy soil. They raise grains, fruits, vegetables, and beautiful flowering plants. Working long hours, they devise all kinds of creative methods to grow fresh produce in conditions that many thought would make cultivation impossible. She has come from a place where people are building a community for themselves, their children, and generations yet undreamed of. They are building a future, a community based on caring, sharing, and hard, honest work. Hannah is about to cross over into a place that everyone tells her is dangerous, and she insists on going there anyway. They tell her the people who live there are immoral. They have lost their way. They’ve placed too much value on material concerns and have lost sight of what matters most.

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2: Mission Not Accomplished: Negotiating Power Relations and Vulnerability among Messianic Jews in Israel

Fran Markowitz Indiana University Press ePub

Tamir Erez

THE SUMMER OF 2002 began early; it was only May but the humid hot air intertwined with the smoke of the cars left me breathless and sweaty. I was on my way to interview Ruthie, the secretary of a Messianic Jewish congregation I had been studying. From a distance I saw Ruthie, a woman in her forties, dressed in fashionable stonewashed jeans and a tight white t-shirt, and wearing flashing red lipstick that contrasted with her blonde straight hair. We decided to sit down in a quiet area in a little shopping mall outside of Tel Aviv, with a sticky plastic table between us. Ruthie looked directly at me with her large green eyes and asked softly, “Tamir, you’ve faithfully visited our congregation for a long time, has something entered your heart? Does anything touch you?” I replied, “Some of the messages have influenced me, but there are others I can’t relate to.”

As our conversation continued, I began to realize that Ruthie was on her own mission. She told me that the pastor asked her to meet with me after some of the believers had shared with him their reservations about my continuing presence as a nonbeliever and a researcher. At one point she said, “The pastor thought you would feel more open about discussing your attitude towards faith with me, a native born Israeli.”1 Trying to comprehend what she really meant, I asked if she personally felt insecure because of my presence in the congregation. Ruthie replied, “I have a strong faith, so it doesn’t bother me. But I will tell you frankly, there are times when I look at you in the Kehilah [congregation] and you remind me of all the young Israelis [who are not open to faith], and I feel that I had been punched in the stomach. I ask myself, when will they finally grasp that it’s all true? When will they understand that Yeshua [Jesus] is the Messiah, that there is God and He’s so good and loving? I don’t know which barriers you’ve put up, and where they came from, but I sense a very strong and high wall inside you.”

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