This paper looks at the adaptation of the idea of economic citizenship (EC), or the conditioning of civil inclusion on economic par-ticipation, to the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who as a national minority are subject to long-standing political discrimination. I focus on two categories of women—low-income, poorly educated women and middle-class professional women—to explore the articulation of EC at the intersection of gender, class, and nationality. I argue that in the current phase of Israeli neoliberal ethnocracy, EC is offered as a bypass mechanism intended to allow the state to sustain the Jewish-and-democratic complex by reducing “democratic” to a free-market version, with minimal public and legal accountability, while continuing to buttress the “Jewish” component. However, the ethnographic zoom on women’s complex reactions shows that they invest the idea with practical meanings that complicate its connotations. They do develop expectations that paid employment will expand their social inclusion yet remain savvy regarding their perilous position as Palestinians in Israeli society and, depending on class, the profitability of permanent employment. Their experiences show that while the economic path hardly seems to undermine the Palestinians’ political rejection, it provides a new channel for their continued uncanny membership of the citizenry.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
I thank the many women and men who trusted me with their life stories and allowed me to accompany them in different events of their lives. I likewise acknowledge the generous financial support from the Israel Science Foundation (grant 109408) and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology (grant 48788). Last, I am grateful for the meaningful conversations with my graduate students Hawazin Younis, Nisreen Mazzawi, and Shihab Idrees.
© 2023 The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.
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