This paper discusses the case of missing persons in Israel, to show how the category of “missingness” is constructed by the people who have been left behind, and how this may threaten the life-death dichotomy assumption. The field of missing persons in Israel is characterized not only by high uncertainty, but also by the absence of relevant cultural scripts. Based on a narrative ethnography of missingness in Israel, I claim that a new and subversive social category of “missingness” can be constructed following the absence of cultural scripts. The left-behinds fluctuate not only between different assumptions about the missing person’s fate; they also fluctuate between acceptance of the life-death dichotomy, thus yearning for a solution to a temporary in-between state, and blurring this dichotomy, and thus constructing “missingness” as a new stable and subversive ontological category. Under this category, new rites of passage are also negotiated and constructed.
- ambiguous loss
- missing persons
- rites of passage
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Life-span and Life-course Studies