From Outsider to Insider through „Discourse Splitting“

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:03
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ina SCHAUM, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
German Jews migrating to Palestine before 1939 were regarded as outsiders by the native-born Sabras as well as the pioneers of earlier Zionist settlement movements, the Chalutzim. They were regarded as stiff, complicated and overly intellectual, a stereotype reflected in many so-called Jecke-jokes (cf. Shifman/Katz, 2005 and Almog 2000). The Sabra, and those that could pass as native-born, constituted the hegemonic cultural and somatic norm who built and defended Eretz Israel with their sweat and blood. The Jeckes therefore found themselves confronted by intersected and gendered discourses, particularly the Sabra-, the Chalutzim- and the Survivor/Diaspora-discourses. My paper deals with ways of positioning oneself amid those discourses and methods of becoming insider through submission to, as well as modification and appropriation of those discourses. More specifically, I will present the case study of my interview partner Dvora Orbach, who gained herself an insider positioning through what I term discourse splitting. I argue that apart from the possibility to hold positions in two discourses at the same time or to “switch” discourse positions in different contexts and times (cf. Tuider 2007 and Spies 2009), discourses can be split, partly appropriated and partly rejected. I interpret this strategy as a way of overcoming the confrontation with a hegemonic norm that is difficult to meet.

The analysis of her narration reveals that Dvora splits the Jecke-discourse. While she rejects negative characteristics (e.g. blind faith in authority), she claims the positively connoted stereotypical characteristics such as reliability and high education. Another discourse splitting is evident in the reconstruction of the Sabra-discourse in her narration and its interplay with the Orbach family dynamic. Through the splitting, Dvora achieves for herself an insider position without having to distance herself completely from her family and origin. This strategy of discourse splitting might prove relevant for other outsider-insider contexts as well.