The intersection of immigration, social conflict, and art

Dance and identity in “East” Haifa

Authored by: Amanda Furiasse

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367367121
eBook ISBN: 9780429351181
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter approaches the Ethiopian–Israeli Beta Dance Troupe as a lens to study the Israeli city of Haifa and its transformation into a global, Africana hub for technological innovation and creativity. Although Haifa remains among the most socially stratified cities in the world, that stratification simultaneously provides financial, social, and geopolitical resources to Ethiopian Jewish communities living on Mount Carmel’s eastern slopes in what locals commonly refer to as “East Haifa.” In the city’s east, Ethiopian Jews are successfully merging programming, Africana dance, and Jewish ritual to produce a unique East African constellation of Jewishness. As both a technology and ritual, this Afro-centric understanding of Jewish identity rebuffs African Jewish immigrants’ systemic exclusion from Israel’s institutions while simultaneously enabling African Jews to heal from the long-term impacts of migration and reshape the Israeli city of Haifa into a global center for Africana arts, ritual, and technology.

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