To Be Black and Beautiful in Israel

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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  • 1 Tel Aviv University efratayerday@gmail.com
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Abstract

This article reviews works of contemporary female artists of Ethiopian origin active in the Israeli art field. I analyse the subjects in their work and argue these artists are presenting their attitudes towards the ‘white gaze’. Though constantly subjected to it by the Israeli hegemony and the Western masculine discourse, they are notably decreasing their consideration of it. They broaden the restricted field of action that seems designated for them and alter its boundaries. Drawing on theorists of gender, postcolonial theory and theory of art, I demonstrate how these artists are promoting an agenda that reflects their lives as black women in Israel. Influenced by recent socio-political changes and a decline in representations of black women on TV and in visual arts, these artworks were increasingly exhibited in solo and group exhibitions.

Contributor Notes

Efrat Yerday is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. She is a teacher, activist and board member of Association for Ethiopian Jews. She has a master's degree in Politics and Government from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and is researching the fluidity of citizenship in Israel. She established the Ra'av (Hunger) publishing house in Beersheba and edited its first book of translated poetry, Kushila'imashelahem (A temporary anthology of black poetry). In 2010, she established the Young Ethiopian Students blog, challenging the establishment and academic narrative of the absorption of Ethiopian Jews. From 2015 to 2018, she headed the research group ‘Ethiopians Jews Rewriting Their Story’ at Van-Leer Jerusalem Institute. Email: efratayerday@gmail.com

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