Latinos in Israel

Latinos in Israel

Language and Unexpected Citizenship
Alejandro I Paz
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/25/2018
Format: Paperback 8 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-03650-6
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


Latinos in Israel charts the unexpected ways that non-citizen immigrants become potential citizens. In the late 1980s Latin Americans of Christian background started arriving in Israel as labor migrants. Alejandro Paz examines the ways they perceived themselves and were perceived as potential citizens during an unexpected campaign for citizenship in the mid-2000s. This ethnographic account describes the problem of citizenship as it unfolds through language and language use among these Latinos both at home and in public life, and considers the different ways by which Latinos were recognized as having some of the qualities of citizens. Paz explains how unauthorized labor migrants quickly gained certain limited rights, such as the right to attend public schools or the right to work. Ultimately engaging Israelis across many such contexts, Latinos, especially youth, gained recognition as citizens to Israeli public opinion and governing politics. Paz illustrates how language use and mediatized interaction are under-appreciated aspects of the politics of immigration, citizenship, and national belonging.

Author Bio

Alejandro Paz is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.


“This fine-grained ethnography of the Latino migrant community in Israel illustrates the ways in which every day linguistic practices—such as 'speaking like a citizen'—can become cunning political tools in the hands of undocumented populations. Moving boldly beyond regionally-bound ethnographic approaches, Alejandro Paz’s study demonstrates how the precarious lives of Latino communities in Israel are implicated in larger global histories of displacement and colonialism, even as it reminds us that the fate of the non-citizen Palestinian and the non-citizen labor migrant are intimately intertwined.”
 — Rebecca L. Stein, author (with Adi Kuntsman) of Digital Militarism: Israel's Occupation in the Social Media Age

“Latinos quest for recognition as citizens is publicly grounded in their ability to convey their similarity to Israelis and their difference from Palestinians. Thus, speaking like a citizen is much more than a surface performance, as Alejandro Paz convincingly shows, and Latinos themselves are transformed in the process.”
 — Dafna Hirsch, author of 'We Are Here to Bring the West': Hygiene Education and Culture Building in the Jewish Society of Palestine during the British Mandate Period

“Alejandro Paz demonstrates the processes by which margins of identity are constructed or challenged. Israeli identity is routinely imagined in relation to Arab, particularly Palestinian, identity. The fact that the space occupied by undocumented Latino youths in Israel is negotiable shows the complexity and contingency of national identity, raising interesting points about how it actually works.”
 — Bonnie Urciuoli, author of Exposing Prejudice: Puerto Rican Experiences of Language, Race, and Class

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents


Note on Transcription

Introduction: Language and the Unexpected Citizen

Chapter 1: Becoming Non-Citizens: Modernizing Agency in Latino Arrivals to Israel

Chapter 2: Strangers in their own Home: Educación, Domesticity and (Trans-)National Intimacy

Chapter 3: Inculcating Citizenship: Language, Performance and Commensurating Cultural Difference

Chapter 4: Chisme as Latino Public Life: La Alcachofa and Marginal Public Voices

Chapter 5: El Sapo Speaks: Police Informers and the Voice of the State

Chapter 6: Becoming Israeli Citizens: Latino Youth, Uncanny Similarity and the Message of Citizenship

Epilogue: The Unexpected Citizen as Voice of Response