This research explores the processes of framing civilian (as opposed to military-related) missingness in Israel. The people who have been left behind, and particularly the missing persons’ loved ones, seek to frame missingness stories in such a way as to make them newsworthy. However, civilian missingness lacks both cultural scripts and an end to the stories. Thus, I argue, those left behind must use meta-narratives to assert the newsworthiness of these stories. Based on narrative ethnography, I explore two kinds of framings that are used, both reflecting an acceptance of the life/death dichotomy. The first framing (“the child of us all”), is collective in form, and derives from stories with a wide cultural resonance such as cases of missing soldiers. The second framing (“it can happen to anyone”), which highlights individualism, borrows from a common framing of missing persons in the US, particularly about missing young white women. Ultimately, both framings generally fail to achieve wide resonance in Israel. Together with the failure to achieve an ontological solution, I argue, missingness might then be constructed as a stable category. This category has the potential to be a subversive one, creating new cultural scripts that challenge meta-narratives as well as the distinction between life and death.
- missing persons
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)