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The Role of Diseases in Constructing Bureaucratic Patronage over Ethiopian Immigrants in Israel

Esther Hertzog

Keywords: absorption; bureaucratic control; cleanliness; Ethiopian immigrants; patronage; somchot; special treatment; stigmatisation

This article elaborates on the connection between hygiene/cleanliness and the bureaucratic control of Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. It discusses the role of stigmatisation in constructing immigrants' perceived backwardness and weakness, which necessitate guidance. The analysis also demonstrates the patronisation of immigrant women through inspection of their tidiness as mothers and housewives. The case of the Ethiopian immigrants, who began arriving in Israel at the beginning of the 1980s and still immigrate, will be used to suggest that the bureaucratic regulation of immigrants, rather than racism or cultural differentials, is behind the integration process. Moreover, the similarities between the absorption practices applied towards immigrants from Ethiopia and those from Muslim countries in the 1950s will be discussed in terms of the bureaucratic patronage over immigrants in Israel.

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