Abstract

Abstract:

This article looks at the case of Ezekiel's shrine in Kifl, Iraq. The shrine houses the grave of the Jewish prophet Ezekiel and originally consisted of a synagogue and associated buildings. Shi‛a Muslims claim it is a holy site for Muslims. Since Iraq's Jews largely left Iraq after 1950 as a result of government repression, it is now controlled by the Iraqi Shi‛a Waqf. It has been largely changed into a mosque, with many Jewish elements having been removed. Too few Jews are left in Iraq to challenge this. This article asks how changes to this site play into notions of belonging and identity for Iraqi Jews today, as well as how the effects of pressure from dominant Jewish identities and a general ignorance of Arab Jewish identity interacts with this important site of memory. An analysis of the relationship between the site and Iraqi Jewish identity is conducted via on-site work and thirteen interviews with Iraqi Jews from around the world. It argues for the importance of the site and that heritage sites such as Ezekiel's shrine are powerful sites for anchoring diasporic identities mnemonically. In the case where those identities are under strain, these sites serve a role to further strengthen and provide historical weight to claims of belonging. However, this relationship changes through generations because of internal and external identity and political pressures. Unchallengeable pressures increase the likelihood that memories are not passed on. The article argues for a dynamic understanding between site, politics, and identity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-1568
Print ISSN
1044-2057
Pages
pp. 327-353
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-12
Open Access
No
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