Mapping Jewish Identities

Front Cover
Laurence Jay Silberstein
NYU Press, 2000 - Religion - 368 pages
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Is Jewish identity flourishing or in decline? Community leaders and scholarly researchers continually seek to determine the attitudes, beliefs, and activities that best measure Jewish identity. At issue, according to these studies, is the very survival of the Jewish community itself. But such studies rarely ask what actually is being examined when we attempt to assess "Jewish identity" or any identity. Most tend to assume that identity is a preexisting, relatively fixed frame of reference reflecting shared cultural and historical experiences.

Drawing on recent work in such fields as cultural studies, poststructuralist theory, postmodern philosophy, and feminist theory, Mapping Jewish Identities challenges this premise. Contesting conventional approaches to Jewish identity, contributors argue that Jewish identity should be conceptualized as an ongoing dynamic process of "becoming" in response to changing cultural and social conditions rather than as a stable defining body of traits.

Contributors, including Daniel Boyarin, Laura Levitt, Adi Ophir, and Gordon Bearn, examine such topics as American Jews' desires to connect with a lost immigrant past through photography, the complicated function of the Holocaust in the identity formation of contemporary Jews, the impact of the struggle with the Palestinians on Israeli group identity construction, and the ways in which repressed voices such as those of women, Mizrahim, and Israeli Arabs have changed our ways of thinking about Jewish and Israeli identity.

  

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Contents

Narratives of Contemporary
37
Identifying
65
The Labor of Remembrance
97
Art Spiegelmans
122
On the Yiddish Question
145
Territory and Violence
201
Orly CastelBlooms
220
Weighing the Losses Like Stones in Your Hand
250
The Close Call or Could a Pharisee Be a Christian?
266
On Thinking Identity Otherwise
299
A Deleuzian
324
About the Editor
351
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Laurence J. Silberstein is Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies at Lehigh University, where he directs the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies.

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