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Multidimensional Israeliness and Tel Aviv's Tachanah Merkazit: Hearing Culture in a Polyphonic Transit Hub



Israel's heated public debate over the socio-political implications of increasing demographic diversity plays out with special prominence in Tel Aviv, home to large minority citizen populations and a destination for foreign workers and refugees from Asia and Africa. The city's New Central Bus Station, or tachanah merkazit, is a transit hub and commercial complex in which multiple ethnic groups enact aesthetic and cultural dimensions of Israeli urban and national identity in flux. This paper presents a sensory ethnography of the tachanah: sonic and musical expressions of “local” and “global” Israeliness are analyzed against a backdrop of near-constant motion and transit. The somatic and ideological dimensions of movement enable Jewish Israelis, minority citizens and foreigners to assimilate sounds of culture within the tachanah at deeply-felt, personal levels. The tachanah's sonic activity is inherently political, having the potential to impact collective identity and civic reality in Tel Aviv and across Israel. [soundscape, sensory ethnography, migration, ethnicity, Israel]

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