Celebrating Memory and Belonging: Young Russian Israelis Claim Their Unique Place in Tel-Aviv’s Urban Space

Anna Prashizky, Larissa Remennick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drawing on the theoretical concept of collective memory and migration, and politics of belonging, this article explores performative belonging enacted in the series of holidays and commemorative rites organized by young Russian immigrants in Israel’s major metropolis. Our ethnography is based on 18 months of participant observation at the cultural association Fishka in South Tel-Aviv. As part of our field work, we documented public celebrations of Jewish and Russian-Soviet holidays organized by Fishka as acts of public performance seeking to elevate the prestige of Russian culture in Israel. These events reinforced visibility of Russian Israelis in Israel’s cultural capital and helped reach out to other urban communities, both native and immigrant. The article discusses the unique contribution of these bicultural young adults to Tel-Aviv’s diverse and dynamic urban scene. Our main argument is about the importance of collective memory in migration, whereby holidays and commemorative rites reinforce feelings of belonging and fortify the immigrants’ claim on the respectable place in the receiving society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-366
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.

Funding

A couple of successful Tel Aviv fashion designers (Frau Blau label) are among the club’s participants and patrons, who also supply the stage costumes and clothes for project leaders, concert anchors, etc. Altogether, these manifestations make a claim at these young immigrants’ special place in the ranks of Tel-Aviv bohemia, their stake in creation of the city’s high culture, and at least parity (if not superiority) with other young creators who are native Israelis. This elitist attitude is also supported by Fishka’s donor—the Genesis Foundation for Russian Jewry. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Sana Britavsky, head of Genesis Tel-Aviv branch. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the Sociological Institute for Community Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

FundersFunder number
Genesis Foundation for Russian Jewry
Sociological Institute for Community Studies at Bar-Ilan University

    Keywords

    • Russian 1.5 generation immigrants
    • collective memory
    • holidays
    • performance of belonging
    • urban diversity

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