Connecting Ethnicity and Space: The New Russian-Mizrahi-Mediterranean Pop Culture in Israel’s Periphery

Connecting Ethnicity and Space: The New Russian-Mizrahi-Mediterranean Pop Culture in Israel’s Periphery

Tuesday, 2 February 2021 - 2:15pm to 3:30pm
via Teams Live Events. Please use the links below to join the sessions; no password or software installation required.
Anna Prashizky (Western Galilee College)
Yaacov Yadgar (OSGA and DPIR)
Israel Studies Seminar



This article explores the mutual influences between urban spaces and ethnic relations and hierarchies in the cultural field. It hinges on the two theoretical arguments: that physical place influences intergroup/ethnic relations, and that ethnic relations may reshape the meaning of spaces, especially in the urban context. Both ethnicity and space involve political contestations over their meaning and emerge from the interplay between materiality and culture. Young Russian-speaking ethnic entrepreneurs in Israel have invented the new cultural trope of Mizrahi or Mediterranean Russianness, expressed in various venues of pop culture in which they are involved as cultural producers: video clips, festivals, and music and dance performances. This counter-intuitive merger reflects the mainstreaming of Mizrahi styles and genres in
the Israeli culture. It also challenges the Orientalist attitudes towards Mizrahim prevalent among Russian immigrants in Israel, especially the older generation.

 I examine the nexus between the spatiality and materiality of this new culture which has emerged within Israel’s geographic and social periphery. The third space is thus being produced that undermines the alleged Mizrahi/Russian binary and the perception of these identities as essences which are in opposition in a racial and ethnic context. It enables the mixing of categories, and the possibility of creating a new material style and new artistic objects.

Anna Prashizky was born in Russia and immigrated from FSU to Israel at age of 14 in 1991.  Received her Ph.D from the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Bar-Ilan University. She is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology  at Western Galilee College. Her research interests are in the area of the anthropology of Judaism and the immigration from FSU in Israel. Her recent articles dealing with the 1.5 generation of Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel: “On Generation Citizenship:  The New Russian Protest among Young Immigrant Adults in Israel” (Journal of Israeli History), Immigrants' Ethnic Provocation in  the Art Produced by the Russian-Israeli Generation 1.5. (Ethnic and Racial Studies), Ethnic fusion in migration: The new Russian-Mizrahi pop-culture hybrids in Israel (Ethnicities), Homeland Holidays as Anchors of Immigrant Ethnicity: New Year (Novy God) Celebration among Young Russian Israelis (Social Identities), Discourse of Ethnic Trauma in Migration: FSU-born Israeli Women’s Narratives in Online Support Group  (under review co-authored with Prof. Larissa Remennick).