Topics: Main Topic: Identity and Community, Assimilation, Multiculturalism, Citizenship, Cities and Suburbs
Abstract: The impact of multiculturalism on minority integration has been widely researched. Most studies have, however, focused on new migrant groups and less is known about the impact of multiculturalism on the identities of other longer-established minorities, such as Jews. This paper analyses the relationship between changing forms of citizenship and the evolution of Jewish identities in Britain. Drawing on qualitative research in the Jewish community in Leeds, the paper explores how the identities of Jewish immigrants were once streamlined to fit an assimilationist agenda and how the emergence of British multicultural citizenship enhanced and legitimated the renegotiation of their identities, thereby enabling the pluralisation of Jewish selves. It then considers the relevance of this case to contemporary debates about multiculturalism in Britain.
Abstract: The Jewish population living in Britain has commonly been depicted as a ‘model of integration’. This paper explores the social and spatial transitions made by the Jewish community over the course of more than a century of settlement and adaptation, with particular reference to Leeds. Using an historical perspective, the paper traces the changing ‘place’ of Jews in wider society in terms of their socio-economic status and how they construct themselves as a religious and ethnic minority in Britain. Drawing on a mixed methods approach, the paper reveals how Leeds Jews’ understandings of community, identity, integration and citizenship have evolved over time. The research uncovers diverse and complex interpretations of Jewishness and integration, which unsettle the idealised notions of community, the straightforward trajectory of adaptation, and unproblematic conceptions of identity embedded in the Jewish model of integration. The paper reflects on the implications of the Jewish experience for current debates and discourses on ‘race’, difference and social integration in twenty-first-century Britain.