Joel Hart

DPhil Candidate, Social and Cultural Anthropology and COMPAS

St. Anthony’s College

Thesis: Urban Diversity, Encounter and Difference in Peripheral Jaffa

Research: My research focuses on multicultural urban encounter as a space for the production of new values, hopes, political imaginaries, and cross-cultural exchange, as well as violence, racism, and ethnic segregation. Specifically, I am interested in how social, moral, and political imaginations are shaped by the sharing of housing and public space in an ethnically diverse socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhood of present-day Jaffa, Israel. Incorporating new migrations to this neighbourhood since the 1980s – particularly of Former Soviet Union and Ethiopian Jews, and Palestinian Arabs from the gentrified Arab-majority neighbourhoods of Western Jaffa – I am interested in differentiations in ethical relations between members of the neighbourhood’s distinctive populations, and how local sub-communities of exclusion and belonging are created through houses of worship, ethnic enclaves, residential committees and shared spaces of consumption and sociality. 

'This requires discovering the values utilised and reflected on in relation to interaction with others, and the ways in which relations between individuals of different ethnicity, race, or citizenship status, generate processes of racialisation, xenophobia, and stereotyping. It also requires an inquiry into how striving for place, through community-building and practices of exclusion, delineates political borders, frontiers, strongholds, and new spaces of hope in the urban landscape. 

Overall, I aspire to move beyond the dichotomous ‘mixed-city’ paradigm in the study of Israeli cities with some demographic configuration of both Arabs and Jews, by demonstrating how the loosening of spatial segregation, internal communal dynamics, and further ethnic mix in Israel’s socioeconomic periphery constitutes Israeli multiculturalism as a potential site for future social integration, or the reproduction of social segregation and new forms of ethnonationalist friction.  

Research interests: urban anthropology, multiculturalism and ethics, racism and xenophobia, anthropology of place and the built environment, anthropology of values, political geography of Israel/Palestine, diasporas and social memory, anthropology of food