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Department of Social Anthropology


Ambivalent generosity among local patrons: Ethnic exclusion and place belonging in a lower income neighborhood of Tel Aviv


Linking anthropological exchange theory to ethnic and racial studies in the urban sphere, this paper contributes to the study of place belonging in the context of ethnic and racial discrimination during urban change. It proposes a new theoretical construct, “ambivalent generosity”, to describe dual and selective exchange patterns along ethnic and racial lines among local patrons in light of neighborhood transformation. The case study explored is HaTikva neighborhood – originally a lower-income district of south Tel Aviv inhabited by Mizrahi Jews (Jews from Muslim countries who suffer ongoing discrimination in Israel), significantly transformed by the arrival of thousands of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea. Based on fieldwork conducted from 2010-2013 among long-term Mizrahi residents of HaTikva, I show the manifestation of ambivalent generosity in exchange practices of local patrons. I argue that while patrons showed generosity in their actions towards people of their own ethnic group, they excluded the African migrants from participating in their reciprocity networks. Moreover, although local Mizrahi patrons used parental metaphors to describe their unconditioned giving practices towards their own community, in fact, altruism and self-interest intermingled in their actions. Finally, whereas the local patrons’ reciprocity networks helped vulnerable agents and enhanced Mizrahi place attachment, they also buttressed their own standing in the neighborhood.

Friday, 12 November, 2021 - 16:15 to 18:00
Event location: 
Lecture room 1, Mill lane