Exiles at home: mobility, exclusion and (in)visibility among Palestinians in Tel Aviv
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This thesis explores intersecting processes of inclusion and exclusion among Palestinians in Tel Aviv, a city considered to be essentially Jewish-Israeli. It looks at Palestinians from diverse backgrounds and statuses who engage with the city in search of employment, higher education, political activism, or an urban lifestyle. Although this self-consciously liberal city creates social and economic openings, unequal power relations and conflict prevail over urban civility and citizenship. The Palestinians face a paradox: the deeper their inclusion into Tel Aviv’s political economy, the stronger their estrangement and the more serious their dilemmas. Because their urban inclusion is limited, mobility and constant adaptation become obligatory and eventually disempowering. As they oscillate between conflicting desires and senses of solidarity or identification, the Palestinians in Tel Aviv struggle with intersecting forms of cultural and political power. They seek individual opportunities within a political system they oppose, demand recognition of their identity and history but also seek urban anonymity as unmarked individuals. Their balancing acts resemble acrobats: they walk a tightrope between contradictory worlds, unable to reconcile both into a stable balance and simultaneously prevented from ever fully arriving at the other end. They live in exile ‘at home’.