Roots Tourism of Israeli Ethiopian Jews: Stories of Identity Reformulation

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Yaniv BELHASSEN, Eilat Campus, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Efrat Trongo ADIS, Eilat Campus, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Tal LITVAK HIRSH, Program of Conflict Management & Resolution, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
The Ethiopian Jews, also known as Beta Israel and/or the Falasha, are one of the most distinct ethnic groups in Israeli society. In 2015, approximately 141,200 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, out of which 85,700 were born in Ethiopia and 55,500 born in Israel. Researchers who studied Ethiopians’ integration in the Israeli society suggested that Ethiopian second and third generations would undergo identity crises due to the cultural gap between old and young members in the community, their unique racial features as black Jews, the questions raised about their Jewishness, and the low status awarded them in Israeli society. In light of this premise, the current study seeks to examine the travel experiences of Israelis of Ethiopian descent who have visited Ethiopia as tourists. Informed by narrative theories, it seeks to explore personal stories related to the decision to travel to Ethiopia, the actual experience there and how travelers believe this experience influences their life in Israel. The study will follow the psycho-cultural analytical tradition by which identity is conceived as a social construct that derives from one's own understanding and intersubjective articulation of experience. More specifically, the study employs a framework of identity reformulation as a theoretical standpoint to understand how their travel experience shapes the way they describe their ethnic, national, cultural and religious identity. By recognizing repeated themes, the study also seeks to shed a broader light on social processes and issues related to the Ethiopian community in Israel.