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Peripheral nationhood: being Israeli in Kiryat Shemona

Furberg Moe, Marie Cathrine (2012) Peripheral nationhood: being Israeli in Kiryat Shemona. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis provides a case study for how settler colonialism intertwined with ethnonationalism to shape social identification in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona. Jews from Arab and Muslim lands were categorized by Zionist nation-builders as Mizrahim and disproportionally placed on the geographic and socio-economic margins of Israeli society to Judaise territory, to prevent the return of the displaced indigenous Palestinian population and to provide cheap labour for Ashkenazi settlements. They were excluded from the Ashkenazi-dominated centre of power, yet included as essential members of a militaristic frontier ethos. The thesis explores how Mizrahim negotiated Israeliness from the margins within the dynamics of ethnocratic exclusion and inclusion, in what I have termed peripheral nationhood. It examines the Israeli State’s attempt to mould loyal subjects through Hebrew education, national ceremonies and military campaigns. In everyday life, Mizrahim contested the socio-economic and cultural hegemony of the Ashkenazi through ethnic and transnational identifications and practices. Simultaneously, their support for the nation-in-arms and creative self-fashioning as ‘strong’ and ‘civilized’ reinforced the dominant logic of ethno-nationalism. Mizrahi residents redeployed stereotypes and an Oriental stigma in their descriptions of Mizrahim, Russian-speaking Israelis and Arabs to elevate their own social status and position in the ethnocracy. The nation was only intermittently salient as a category of belonging, thus challenging theories of ‘everyday nationalism’ that consider it omnipresent. During the Israeli war on Gaza in 2008/2009, sentiments of national unity were heightened, and the border Mizrahim appeared to be move and/or moved themselves from the periphery to the centre of the nation as key actors in the moral legitimization of war. The dissertation argues that the qualities that make up peripheral nationhood are coeval with construction of national unity as a colonial practice by the centre.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Marie Furberg Moe
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Mundy, Martha and Feuchtwang, Stephan

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