How to Outsmart the System: Immigrants’ Trickster Stories
Wie man das System austrickst: Immigranten erzählen

Larisa Fialkova, Maria N. Yelenevskaya

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/sms.v9i0.1737

Abstract

This essay investigates attitudes to the law on the part of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel and concerns the problems at the crossroads of legal anthropology, folklore, and immigration studies. Brought up in a totalitarian state, Soviet citizens were not law-abiding. The law was seen as an instrument of suppression used by the state against an individual. Circumventing it was considered to be both moral and justified. Immigration has not led to a change in legal consciousness or behavioral strategies. Trickster stories in which narrators bending the law are presented as heroes are of high tellability and form a distinctive genre of immigrants’ folklore. The essay is based on face-to-face interviews conducted by the authors and analyzes historical, folkloric and literary roots of the immigrants’ nonchalant attitude to the law. Focusing on twin stories narrated by participants of the same events we show selectivity of memory and the first stages of folklorization of personal narratives.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3986/sms.v9i0.1737

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