Ann Prashizky discusses 'self orientalistation' by the 1.5 generation of FSU immigrants to Israel.
This seminar explores the mutual influences between urban spaces and ethnic relations and hierarchies in the cultural field. It hinges on the two theoretical arguments: that physical place influences intergroup/ethnic relations, and that ethnic relations may reshape the meaning of spaces, especially in the urban context. Both ethnicity and space involve political contestations over their meaning and emerge from the interplay between materiality and culture. Young Russian-speaking ethnic entrepreneurs in Israel have invented the new cultural trope of Mizrahi or Mediterranean Russianness, expressed in various venues of pop culture in which they are involved as cultural producers: video clips, festivals, and music and dance performances. This counter-intuitive merger reflects the mainstreaming of Mizrahi styles and genres in the Israeli culture. It also challenges the Orientalist attitudes towards Mizrahim prevalent among Russian immigrants in Israel, especially the older generation.
I examine the nexus between the spatiality and materiality of this new culture which has emerged within Israel’s geographic and social periphery. The third space is thus being produced that undermines the alleged Mizrahi/Russian binary and the perception of these identities as essences which are in opposition in a racial and ethnic context. It enables the mixing of categories, and the possibility of creating a new material style and new artistic objects.
Anna Prashizky is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Western Galilee College. Her research interests are in the area of the anthropology of Judaism and the immigration from FSU in Israel. Her recent articles dealing with the 1.5 generation of Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel were published in such journals as Journal of Israeli History, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Ethnicities, and Social Identities.