The Ethiopian Jewish Exodus: Narratives of the Migration Journey to Israel 1977-1985

By Gadi Benezer | Go to book overview
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By way of conclusion I wish to highlight a few points arising from this study which seem to have a more general relevance to migration journeys.

The first point I want to make relates to the way journeys are experienced by those who have made them. We have seen how for Ethiopian Jews the journey was a distinctive event in their lives, an event which has acquired particular significance within their life stories. This might also be true for other migrants and refugees. Journeys, I believe, are highly intensive events which are registered as a distinct period and experience within the life history of the individual. People construct migration or flight journeys as happening within relatively clear boundaries. These boundaries, however, may extend somewhat beyond the limits of the physical movement. The journey will most probably be conceived as starting from the moment of decision to migrate (whether chosen or forced), when processes of separation from and mourning of the old society and self are starting to take place; it continues through the period of the actual movement and often concludes some time after the arrival of the person in the new country. Nevertheless, the essence of the journey is in the powerful processes which the person (and the community) undergoes in the course of the physical movement and during the period in between countries.

Migration journeys, I believe, should be viewed as a dynamic process rather than a static condition. Each phase of the journey influences the next one, and specific experiences within it affect the way the person encounters the experiences that follow. From this perspective, it would be interesting to study the journeys of other groups of migrants and refugees and to understand the experience and its significance in the lives of those who made them.

It would also be worthwhile to look at migration in general, even when it does not include an intensive experience of exacting movement, from the point of view of a journey, i.e. looking at the in-between phase-the period that starts with the decision to migrate and ends upon arrival in the new country-examining the dynamics of change which occur during this period as well as how these influence subsequent processes.

A second point which comes out of this study is related to the issue of journeys and identity (in the latter various senses). Victor Turner, who researched


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