Grilled nationalism: Power, masculinity and space in Israeli barbeques

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19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Barbequing meat is the main activity for most Israeli Jews celebrating the nation's Independence Day. It is a ritual without which the festival is incomplete, and beyond which not much is done. Identification with the nation-state is embodied through the consumption of meat that represents processed and refined chunks of Israeliness. But what is the meaning of this ritual and what does al ha'esh ([meat] over fire) stand for? Anthropological theory tends to discuss roasted meat as an extreme expression of power, potency and masculinity, and highlights its relationship to territory and to the modern nation-state. In this article, based on ethnographic research conducted from 2002 to 2009, I stress the Israeli features of this food event. I analyze the two main features of Israeli Independence Day barbeques-handling the meat and managing the space-and argue that these features expose the ambivalent sense of power and weakness, and of stability and influx, underlining Israeli barbeques and, perhaps, Israeli society at large.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-320
Number of pages20
JournalFood, Culture and Society
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Jun 2013

Keywords

  • Israel
  • Masculinity
  • Meat
  • Nationalism
  • Power

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