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At Home in My Enemy’s House: Israeli Activists Negotiating Ethical Values through Ritualized Palestinian Hospitality

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Mautner, Ori 


Engaged Dharma Israel (EDI) activists resist their state’s occupation of West Bank Palestinians by offering them solidarity and support. Whereas most Israelis consider such Palestinians’ houses unsafe, EDI participants “feel at home” when acting as polite guests there, experiencing the hospitality of their politically subordinate counterparts as poignant. Such activists value intimacy—crossing boundaries between self and other on both personal and national levels—which they substantially realize during their visits. However, they also seek to promote Israelis’ and Palestinians’ mutual autonomy, an often-competing value that the visits likewise help effectuate. These capacities of hospitality result from its ritualized nature—namely, its tendency to follow conventional scripts that do not require certain inner states (e.g., sincerity). Hospitality can therefore be usefully approached as a ritualized arena that enables people to promote multiple values that are culturally central for them, including ones frequently found in tension. Anthropologists can benefit from tying the political inequalities and complexities that characterize hospitality to its capability to work out and negotiate participants’ plural ethical commitments.



4401 Anthropology, 44 Human Society

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American Anthropologist

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American Anthropological Association
ESRC (ES/W006030/1)
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