This article demonstrates the contrasting experiences of military widows in the modern Jewish Orthodox and the Bedouin sectors in Israel. While fallen Jewish soldiers are honored in a fashion similar to martyrs, Bedouin fallen soldiers are perceived as anti-martyrs; their anti-martyr status causes predicaments for their widows. While Jewish war widows are glorified, their Bedouin counterparts are subject to various modes of marginalization and exclusion. The article offers Bourdieusian theoretical analysis of the differing status of the Bedouin war widows and proposes the concept of negative symbolic capital to describe a situation where a social agent not only lacks a certain sort of capital, but instead possesses an intangible attribute which is negatively sanctioned owing to cultural-specific beliefs, values, and circumstances. We demonstrate how widows who possess negative symbolic capital invest much effort in accruing religious capital, in order to cope with their excluded position as widows of anti-martyrs.
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- symbolic capital