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Rebuilding Jerusalem: music and identity among recent immigrants in Israel

Wood, Abigail (2007) Rebuilding Jerusalem: music and identity among recent immigrants in Israel. In: Annual conference of the Society for Ethnomusicology, October 2007, Columbus, Ohio. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Since the formation of the state in 1948, Israel has strongly encouraged Jewish immigration. Alongside the Hebrew language, immigrants are encouraged to develop the cultural literacy that will enable them to participate in wider Israeli cultural life. During the past two decades, however, the previously mainstream Zionist narrative of assimilation into a unitary Israeli culture has been challenged on two fronts; first, by a rise of ethnic identification and open cultural pluralism in Israeli society, and second, by the immigration of groups (including those from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia) who challenge previous conceptions of ethnic and national affiliation. Jerusalem, historically and currently a strongly multi-ethnic city, is a popular destination for immigrants. Like in many cities worldwide, immigrant groups build musical networks, creating a sense of place within the fabric of the city. Nevertheless, those seeking to explore and express a sense of place in today’s Jerusalem must do so against the backdrop of conflict, and in the light of the wider cultural baggage – both from within and outside Israeli society – concerning the multiple symbolic and realpolitik meanings of Jerusalem. Part of a wider project investigating the roles played by music in the negotiation of individual and collective identities among recent immigrants in contemporary Israel, this paper considers three immigrant communities in Jerusalem, exploring how the images of place expressed in their music interact with the historical and contemporary, imagined and real, secular and sacred, conflicted and fragmentary images of Jerusalem that form a constant backdrop to their music. Here, music frequently challenges older Zionist narratives, instead offering an alternative approach to issues of immigration and the complex processes of cultural identity formation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Music
Depositing User: Abigail Wood
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2008 15:11
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/4359

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