Topics: Ethnography, Jewish Heritage, Jewish Community, Jewish Identity, Main Topic: Identity and Community, Conflict, Care and Welfare
Abstract: Travelogue – On the Contemporary Understandings of Citizenship among European Jews – title and subject of Theodor Barth’s thesis – encompasses six books with ethnography based on a multi-sited fieldwork, in Central- & Eastern European Jewish communities. The books are concerned with aspects of their own conditions of production, from fieldwork research to writing, alongside the ethnographic subject of the Travelogue: the conditions of Jewish communities (mainly in cities of Central and Eastern Europe) in the last half of the 1990s (1995-99). The books root the model experiments developed throughout the Travelogue in different ethnographic contexts. Book 1 (Spanning the Fringes – Vagrancy to Prague) is a traveller’s tale with quite contingent, serendipitous, and very short-term trips to sample Jewish life in St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Warsaw, Kiev, Bucharest, Sofia, and Budapest. Book 2 (The Minutes of the ECJC) is a commentary and analysis around a conference which the candidate attended in Prague in 1995 of the European Council of Jewish Communities (ECJC). It focuses on the political work and changing strategies of the ECJC. This book establishes some of the terms of the problems of community-Jews in Europe. Book 3 (The Zagreb Almanach) is a description and analysis of the candidate’s stay with the Jewish community of Zagreb, focusing on a place, a green room, the community centre itself—this is the closest to a traditional site of community living in his ethnographic research. Book 4 (The Books of Zagreb and Sarajevo) provides a contemporary and contextualized reading of a key Jewish ritual complex—the Passover Seder and its text, the Haggadah. This is a cultural object for systematic iteration and commentary, on which to articulate in depth a number of his insights gained more diffusely from observation. Among all the books, book 4 is the one intensive piece in which the textual analysis defines a process through which the candidate intends to sensitise the reader to how pattern can emerge from details. Book 5 (Thirteen Kisses—a Manual of Survival From Sarajevo) relates a testimonial account of how the activist group La Benevolencija functioned in Sarajevo humanitarian relief during the Bosnian War of 1992-95. The candidate hopes to demonstrate a slow transition from wartime testimonials in the presence of an anthropologist, to recognition in the urban commonwealth in the aftermath of the war. He also invites the reader to consider the particularities of survivor testimonies and contrast these to how the war-zone was perceived from the outside. Book 6 (The Account of the Lifeline) provides an understanding of a search and accountability model developed by La Benevolencija—in co-operation with the Joint—during the war in Bosnia (1992-95). It consolidates and expands the account of the Jews in Sarajevo and their humanitarian actions, through the candidate’s work on archives of the Joint (American Joint Distribution Committee) in Paris. The six books of the Travelogue are rounded up in three concluding sections, containing 1) a synopsis of the findings across the books (Frames – Modeling Disordered Systems), 2) an account for the process of visual modeling throughout the books (Design – Choices and Aggregates), 3) a bibliographic presentation in which various sources influenced the conceptual choices and experiments that are made throughout the manuscript are discussed (Bibliography: Reflective Readings). In this way, the candidate hopes to retrace his steps from the findings, via the crafting of the volume back to the ranks of colleagues and readers.