Edited by Elizabeth Mavroudi, Ben Page and Anastasia Christou
Chapter 10: Structure, agency and timespace in immigrant enclaves: high-status immigration in Jerusalem, Israel
The chapter introduces a case study that is distinctive not only because it is empirically unfamiliar, but also because it runs against the grain of many migration stories in which people move from poorer parts of the world to richer ones. Instead it looks at the movement of affluent Jews who are leaving ‘the West’ (in particular France) and moving to the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Baka. Whilst Zaban acknowledges that the resources of these households mean that they appear to move freely of their own accord, she also argues that such flows are actually highly constrained and in some ways determined by social structures in both the sending and receiving countries. For example, the role played by the organisations in Israel that support new migrants or the legislative rules around taxation in Israel mean that what appears to be an individual’s choice is not made in a vacuum but in a context where certain ‘choices’ become far more likely than others. This dialogue between choice and constraint becomes particularly pertinent to the themes of this book when it illustrates how the choices of one generation become the constraints of another in Baka. So the space of the study can only possibly be understood through addressing stories of how it has changed over time: time, space, structure and agency swirl together in the production of stories about place and mobility. Thus the Arab housing stock in Baka ‘abandoned’ in the 1940s appeals to the first generation of incomers because it is seen as authentically Middle Eastern. It becomes ripe for gentrification by immigrants in the 1970s, and this gentrification in turn limits who can afford to move to Baka in the current day. Equally, the temporalities of immigration to Israel are shaped by Israeli military activity in the Middle East that produces a less comfortable context for Jews in the West. The moment when people move to Israel to escape hostility in Paris is produced by events in Israel itself – the chapter shows how the timing and spacing of migration is hard to separate when considered over generations. Keywords: choice, constraint, gentrification, inter-generational change, structuration, Israel
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