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Soul Citizenship: The Black Hebrews and the State of Israel

Fran Markowitz, Sara Helman and Dafna Shir-Vertesh
American Anthropologist
Vol. 105, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 302-312
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3567504
Page Count: 11
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Soul Citizenship: The Black Hebrews and the State of Israel
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Abstract

Based on the experiences of the Black Hebrews in Israel, this article introduces "soul citizenship," an alternate discourse that asserts the right of individuals and groups to match their self-defined identities with existing states. After years of living in the Jewish State as an illegal yet tolerated presence, the African Hebrew Israelite Community (AHIC) gained temporary residence status, or according to the postnational model of membership, de facto citizenship. Nonetheless, having reformulated their claims in terms of Jewish cultural pluralism instead of race, the Black Hebrews continue to demand full Israeli citizenship. Rejecting postnational splits among identity, legal status, and territory, their soulful claims suggest a model of citizenship that opens new space for misplaced people(s) to gain membership in the states that meet their cultural aspirations and nourish their souls.

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