By Elke Kaschl
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Additional info for Dance and Authenticity in Israel and Palestine: Performing the Nation (Social, Economic and Political Studies of the Middle East and Asia)
Acknowledging these problematic implications, I want to emphasize that by referring to dabkeh/debkah as an invented tradition, I do not intend to disregard the very real and concrete meanings which dabkeh/debkah holds for all of its practitioners. ’ Most importantly, I do not mean to privilege my conceptualization of dabkeh/debkah as an ‘invention’ over the realness of the historic origins of dabkeh as an Arab cultural practice, and its continuing importance today as a central part of Palestinian social life.
On ‘location,’ in contrast, as a way of reconceptualizing the ethnographic ﬁeld see (Gupta and Ferguson 1997). 26 Israel and the autonomous territories to follow dabkeh/debkah to its various performance sites throughout the country, attending festivals, folk dance gatherings and social events, digging up archival material and oral histories, as well as tracing interview partners, videotapes, music and books. My moving between the sites hereby was not limited to my physical dislocation from one place to another.
Founded within the past ten to twenty years of the time of my ﬁeldwork, each of the three folk dance groups had been working continuously since the time of its foundation and had thereby acquired a solid standing within its community. Furthermore, all three ensembles were similarly organized as amateur groups based on voluntary participation with some of the leaders earning their living through the group. Since 1996, El-Funoun had been paying two full-time positions, employing an artistic as well as an administrative director with money given by international donors or earned through the group’s artistic work.