By Liora Gvion
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Additional resources for Beyond Hummus and Falafel: Social and Political Aspects of Palestinian Food in Isræl
This chapter illuminates the social processes through which food contributes to the national and ethnic identities of groups that share a single territory but perceive themselves as distant and different from one another politically, culturally, and economically. I also look at the circumstances under which food serves as a bridge between two such groups: Palestinians and Jews who are citizens of the state of Israel. An examination of the processes that shape national and ethnic cuisines and enable continuity, along with incorporation of changes into the daily diet, reveals the connection between the politics of identity and the daily culinary practices held in both the private and public spheres.
52 By focusing on Palestinian citizens of Israel, I look at how the cuisines of minorities reveal negotiations over both social inclusion and self-identification. I consider how food may reflect relations between ethnic communities and the dominant group, how it finds expression in the colonial discourse, and what role it plays as a part of the cultural assets of the nation-state. 55 Cooking and eating, therefore, are means of constructing social boundaries between those incorporated into the national food culture and those we do not trust enough to include in the collective.
Does their presence indicate that Palestinian society in Israel is in the process of searching for its own identity, in an attempt to define its place between “Israeliness” and a distinct Palestinian existence? Or does it perhaps reflect exposure to global trends in a world whose culture is growing increasingly homogeneous? Finally, what can be learned from the Palestinian kitchen about Jews and their culture, about the identity being shaped inside Israel’s borders? These questions, which began to engage me on a personal level and not only as a sociologist, made it more difficult for me to write, sometimes to the point of literary paralysis.