By Elke Kaschl
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Extra resources for Dance and Authenticity in Israel and Palestine: Performing the Nation (Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia)
Conventionally, ethnographers conduct their ﬁeld work within one 25 particular, spatially delimited site, in which they engage in in-depth, long-term research with one particular target group. The increasing interconnectedness of the world, however, and the changing ways in which group identities are deﬁned and reproduced across the globe have challenged the notion of the ‘ethnographic ﬁeld’ as necessarily constituting one particular, territorially bounded site in which ethnographers “dwell intensively” (Cliﬀord 1992).
I refrained from doing so. Watching the rehearsals was one thing, but I felt that actually joining in would have compromised my standing among the dancers of Al-Asayyel, especially among the girls, in terms of group loyalty as well as the complex issue of the female body in dance involving questions of dress, movement and gender interactions. Similarly, I consciously kept social contact with Karmei Makhol dancers outside the oﬃcial setting of rehearsals and performances within certain boundaries, turning down invitations for private parties, weekend trips, or staying overnight at people’s houses.
With the help of Majida Rimawi, one of the group‘s choreographers whom I had met by chance at the Festival of Arab Arts in Brooklyn in 1996, I located other members when I came to Manhattan in 1997. Of the originally twelve Al-Watan members I managed to contact and meet another four who had stayed in the area. Two more I had a chance of meeting later in Palestine, where they had immigrated to and become dedicated members of El-Funoun. The rest had left the New York area and were not in touch anymore.