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The politics of ethnic melancholy in Israeli cinema

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This paper deals with the way migrants’ children process the trans-generational trauma of immigration and examines its impact on the formation of their self-identity. It explores the manifestation of this trauma as present in two highly-notable works by Mizrahi cinematographers. The memory unfolding in these films is a penetrating audio-visual testimony to the immigration trauma with the mark it has left on the psyches and identities of migrants’ children. It argues that the split identity that is a product of both Israeli assimilationist and Mizrahi resistance inhabits the continuum between mourning and melancholy, grief and grievance. Along this continuum, immigrant subjects engage in intergenerational negotiations between mourning and melancholy, while their ethnic melancholy emerges as an alternative mental state to the Eurocentric hegemony.
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Keywords: Mizrahi Jews; immigration; melancholy; split identity; trans-generational trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Film and Television, The Yolanda and David Katz Faculty of the Arts, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel

Publication date: March 4, 2015

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