Bedouin and Former Soviet Union Immigrant University Students in Israel: Language, Identity and Power
AuthorLehrer, Stephanie Mae
Committee ChairGoodman, Yetta
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis qualitative research study, conducted at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Beersheva, Israel, examined the interrelationships between language, identity and power in the context of a modern, multicultural society. The study focused on the impact of language use and status on the cultural, political and social identities of female students belonging to the Bedouin and the former Soviet Union (FSU) immigrant communities. As members of an ethnic subgroup of the Arab minority, and as females subordinated within their own traditionally patriarchal society, women of the indigenous Bedouin tribes of the Negev region have been dubbed a 'doubly marginalized' minority. In 1989, following decades of religious persecution, Jews were allowed to leave the FSU en masse; nearly one million have immigrated to Israel. This massive immigration of Russian speakers, as well as programs promoting study for Arabic-speaking Bedouin women, have led to greater diversity and increased multilingualism at BGU. The university offers a unique microcosm in which to study the language use, attitudes and consequent impact on the identities of these two distinctive minority groups.This study explored the attitudes of six female Bedouin and FSU immigrant students of BGU residing in the Negev region of Israel toward their first, second and foreign languages. Using data collected from in-depth interviews, I linked informant attitudes to underlying issues of gender, social status, identity, power and empowerment. Language took on new meanings and status as these students utilized Hebrew and English for purposes of communication and knowledge acquisition at the university level. Moreover, the new linguistic scenarios faced by Bedouin and FSU immigrant informants raised complex social issues and tensions, and influenced their perceptions about language and identity.Themes that emerged concerning language use and status, and self-perceptions of identity led to conclusions involving issues related to gender, social status, community, nationality, ethnicity, globalism, and power relations, as well as to future prospects made possible by higher education. It was demonstrated that, like the process of language acquisition, perceptions of identity and culture are dynamic in nature and are continually being reinvented.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading & Culture