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Representation of Space in Mizrahi Fiction

From: Hebrew Studies
Volume 53, 2012
pp. 335-364 | 10.1353/hbr.2012.0039

Abstract

Abstract:

Mizrahi writers are aware that their location in Israel—the geographical periphery—had hitherto not been portrayed in Israeli literature. This constitutes a cultural position of alienage and exceptionality and at the same time a new and concrete place—poor neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv and western Jerusalem and development towns established in the 1950s and 1960s at the country's border and in sparsely populated areas as part of a policy of dispersal of the Mizrahi population and distancing it from the country's center. The disconnection from the centers arouses a Mizrahi consciousness of the periphery which divided the Israeli space, imagined to be uniform, into ethnic zones. Mizrahi fiction gazes into the distances of consciousness that distinguish the geographic center from its margins in a dual perspective: it examines the margins with a gaze that creates awareness of the existence of a prestigious and attractive center and examines the center itself as a place that cannot be penetrated by Mizrahim and turned into a home for them. In this sense, the spatial consciousness of Mizrahi authors highlights a lack of belonging—both to the periphery and to the center—and a constant migratory movement between these two split geographical foci. I argue that, instead of the hegemonic unitary and complete space, Mizrahi fiction of the second generation—texts written during the last two decades—offers an ethnic perception that divides space, thus defining a "diasporic" point of view.



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