Israel in the Making: Stickers, Stitches, and Other Critical Practices

Israel in the Making: Stickers, Stitches, and Other Critical Practices

Israel in the Making: Stickers, Stitches, and Other Critical Practices

Israel in the Making: Stickers, Stitches, and Other Critical Practices


The brilliant kaleidoscope of everyday creativity in Israel is thrown into relief in this study, which teases out the abiding national tensions and contradictions at work in the expressive acts of ordinary people. Hagar Salamon examines creativity in Israel's public sphere through the lively discourse of bumper stickers, which have become a potent medium for identity and commentary on national and religious issues. Exploring the more private expressive sphere of women's embroidery, she profiles a group of Jerusalem women who meet regularly and create "folk embroidery." Salamon also considers the significance of folk expressions at the intersections of the public and private that rework change and embrace transformation. Far ranging and insightful, Israel in the Making captures the complex creative essence of a nation state and vividly demonstrates how its citizens go about defining themselves, others, and their country every day.


This book was born out of research undertaken over a period beginning in 1993–94 and continuing up to the pres ent day. Taken together, it offers the reader views of life in Israel, while illustrating the critical and reflective insights that folk creativity trea sures. the subtitle, “Stitches, Stickers, and Other Critical Practices,” stressing creativity and critique, alludes to the totality of ethnographic encounters, engaging both social dialogue and private experiences (Markowitz 2013). Through conversations with producers and consumers of folkloric materials, the evolving discourses of a changing society take on new life. I invite you to witness this alchemy with me.

Each of the following chapters represents an ethnographic encounter with a folk cultural artifact and the persons involved with it. in each encounter, the presence of a multivocal space made up of intuitions and understandings “hovering over the waters” is sensed (Hazan and Hertzog 2012, 1–4). Previously unexpressed and unformulated concepts and emotions take shape in the intersubjective ethnographic space and often yield valuable insights into the nature of community, the distribution of power, the richness of culture, and the all-too-human strug gle for survival and dignity.

The link between the chapters, in terms of manifest content, is far from being typical or evident. What is the connection between bumper stickers and embroidery, and how are these two linked to the humor of immigrant groups? Each cultural realm, on its own, could have been the basis of a specialized monograph! I therefore begin by relating to the genesis and rationale of this book, which bring together ostensibly unconnected materials and concerns.

Admittedly, in the years during which the studies that comprise the chapters of the pres ent book were conducted, even I was unaware of the link connecting the different topics. Each study was carried out separately and normally represented a digression from my main line of research, which focuses on issues related to the past and pres ent life of Ethiopian Jews. Within each specific subject, the initial study generated several offspring—a series of interrelated articles. I did not see any connection among the ostensibly diverse research topics. No associations arose as I separately analyzed each topic. My assumption was that each theme happened to pres ent itself to me as a result of more or less random circumstances.

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