Soul citizenship: The Black Hebrews and the state of Israel

Fran Markowitz, Sara Helman, Dafna Shir-Vertesh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Based on the experiences of the Black Hebrews in Israel, this article introduces "soul citizenship," an alternate discourse that asserts the right of individuals and groups to match their self-defined identities with existing states. After years of living in the Jewish State as an illegal yet tolerated presence, the African Hebrew Israelite Community (AHIC) gained temporary residence status, or according to the postnational model of membership, de facto citizenship. Nonetheless, having reformulated their claims in terms of Jewish cultural pluralism instead of race, the Black Hebrews continue to demand full Israeli citizenship. Rejecting postnational splits among identity, legal status, and territory, their soulful claims suggest a model of citizenship that opens new space for misplaced people(s) to gain membership in the states that meet their cultural aspirations and nourish their souls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-312
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2003


  • Black Hebrews
  • Citizenship
  • Diasporas
  • Israel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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