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Date: 2015
Date: 1997
Abstract: In many parts of the world today, ethnic identity is not merely the product of socialization, but is the result of conscious choice on the part of the individual. Nowhere is this more evident than in the countries of the former East Bloc, where sweeping political changes have removed many barriers to the expression of ethnic sentiment. The present work represents an attempt to build a generalizable model of ethnic identity construction by identifying the major influences on group conceptions of ethnic identity and describing the process by which those conceptions change over time. The primary case study focuses on the construction of ethnic identity among Polish Jews born after World War II. Conclusions are based primarily on data collected in interviews with members of that community. Traditionally, theories of ethnicity have posited a unity of beliefs, values or behaviors within an ethnic group. In contrast to traditional theories, the model proposed here focuses on major areas of conflict within groups, positing that conflict over issues deemed relevant in some degree to all members of the group is the driving force behind ethnic change. In choosing to identify, members of ethnic groups are presented with a set of issues, which are both important and controversial for the group, on which they feel obligated to take a position. The set of controversial issues relevant to a given group at a given time, the model posits, is determined by three factors: differences between cohorts arising from their formative experiences; differences between subgroups arising from conflicts between communal institutions; and differences between subgroups arising from their varied responses to input from outside groups. Whereas works on ethnicity in the field of political science have tended to focus on nationalism, or the pursuit of statehood by ethnic groups, this model treats nationalism and organized political behavior in general as a potential outgrowth of ethnicity, but not as its necessary byproduct.
Author(s): Hofman, Nila Ginger
Date: 2000
Abstract: My dissertation addresses the sociocultural processes which contribute to the construction of ethnocultural identity among Zagrebian Jews. I argue, contrary to the often essentialized perception of Jewish identity imposed by e.g. the Croatian government and Jewish international organizations, that Jewish identity in Zagreb is actively chosen in ways that are both idiosyncratic and contingent upon the surrounding sociocultural environment. At the heart of my argument is an appeal to the dynamic and contextual nature of identity negotiation, and the influence this has on the maintenance and survival of the Zagrebian Jewish community. In support of this, I have employed ethnographic methods to assess (i) the ways in which Jewish identity is negotiated by community members and (ii) the ways in which the meaning of Jewish community is sustained in Zagreb. With regards to (i), I conclude that Zagrebian Jews understand their identities in terms of symbolic ethnoreligiosity, i.e. in terms of feelings and nostalgic ideas about Jewish culture and tradition. With regards to (ii), I show that the history and development of Jewish identity in Zagreb can be traced through patterns of membership participation in various Jewish organizations prevalent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These patterns reveal the predominantly secular nature of the Zagrebian Jewish community. In light of this, I argue that community for Zagrebian Jews is ultimately defined symbolically through various types of social interaction among members. It is for this reason that the recent attempts of both international Jewish organizations and the Croatian government to impose an essentialized image of Jewish identity on the community are at odds with, and ultimately destructive to, the secular and improvisatory self-images of the members themselves.
Author(s): Ben-Rafael, Eliezer
Date: 2017
Abstract: Contemporary works have shown that antisemitism is far from moribund in Europe and it is in this context that in 2012 was conducted extensive research in the EU on current perceptions and experiences of antisemitism among Jews in Europe. I present and analyze here results that relate specifically to Belgian Jews (438 subjects out of 6,200 in eight countries). The first objective of this work is to learn about the Jewishness of our sample. Hence, we find that 40% of the respondents identify themselves as secular Jews; 15% consider themselves liberals; more than a quarter say they “observe certain traditions”; one sixth define themselves as Orthodox Jews. The data confirm, at this point, that there is only a limited correlation between religiosity and Jewishness: less religious or even non-religious people tend to express an identification with, and commitment to, Jewishness that were not weaker than the Orthodox’. The various factions are also united by a general feeling that while Belgium cannot be considered as an antisemitic state, it is currently experiencing virulent antisemitism in wide milieus. This antisemitism is bound to a sharp anti-Israelism salient in public life, the media, and the Internet. More than a number of other communities in Europe, Belgian Jews see antisemitism reigning in their environment with a gravity. They testify that the Israel-Palestine conflict weighs on their sense of insecurity; they confess that they have often considered the option of emigrating and they openly accuse Muslim extremists of inciting antisemitism. Belgian Jews also feel more vulnerable to antisemitic attacks and tend to resent a weakening in their position in society. On the other hand, what grants support to the Belgian Jews in these circumstances is that they often belong to the properous segments of the population. Moreover, there is the vitality of the community where one finds multiple forms of expression and activity - magazines, radio, clubs, synagogues, museums, etc.- and above all, exceptional educational infrastructures. These resources allow Belgian Jews, if not to protect themselves against the virus of antisemitism, at least to face it.
Author(s): Gross, Martine
Date: 2012
Abstract: Dans la société française contemporaine, laïque et souvent considérée hostile aux regroupements sur une base « communautaire », le Beit Haverim (« Maison des Ami-e-s » en hébreu) représente une association originale. Créée à la fin des années 1970, ce groupe juif homosexuel parisien s’inscrit d’abord dans les transformations du mouvement homosexuel, dont il fait partie intégrante. Le Beit Haverim participe du mouvement actuel des associations « gay plus un » que décrit Elisabeth Armstrong1 dans son analyse de la construction identitaire gay depuis les années 1950 à San Francisco. Son développement renvoie aussi aux transformations du monde juif français, marqué par le questionnement sur la place du religieux dans l’identité juive. Alors que les lieux de socialisation juive, synagogues, centres culturels, n’autorisent pas une affirmation gay ou lesbienne, le Beit Haverim permet à ses membres non seulement de vivre leur homosexualité dans une dimension identitaire collective mais également d’y trouver un support pour une autre dimension identitaire, leur judéité. Les différents rituels proposés par l’association offrent à ses sympathisants de quoi forger un sentiment d’intégration et d’affirmation de leurs deux dimensions. Des « tea dance » calées sur le calendrier des fêtes juives jusqu’aux cérémonies d’union modelées sur le rituel du mariage juif traditionnel, l’entretien entre Franck Jaoui, son actuel porte-parole, et Martine Gross, chercheure qui fut aussi l’une des membres fondatrices de l’association, permet de retracer la place du rituel dans la construction de sociabilités et d’identités juives homosexuelles en France.
Date: 2016