Topics: Main Topic: Identity and Community, Jewish Identity, Jewish Community, Post-1989, Attitudes to Jews, Jewish - Non - Jewish Relations
Abstract: This paper explores Jewish identity and community life in Croatia in the new millennium. Examining the interconnectedness of neoliberalism and the politics of rewriting and suppressing historical narratives, I consider Jewish identity negotiation and community participation in a post-socialist capitalist system. With Croatia’s unsettling history and changing political economy as the backdrop, I examine how the expansion of neoliberal cultural values has made room for multiple views of Croatian history: I argue that the sociocultural climate has produced an essentialized view of Jews and the Jewish community, whose survival is not aided by populist historical revisionism. In line with the changing political economy, Jewish community leadership has adopted a more restricted understanding of the survival of Jewish identity and community participation. I suggest that the perceived monocausal disappearance of the Croatian Jews and the one-size-fits-all solution is problematic given the particular sociocultural context of Croatian Jewry. I further suggest that the promotion of individualism over collectivism, popularized through the neoliberalization of Croatian society, has negatively affected the Jewish communities in Croatia.
Abstract: This paper has two aims. To begin, it examines whether the symbolic ethnicitymodel is relevant to identity negotiationamong Croatian Jews. In symbolicethnicity, individuals are not so muchinterested in the maintenance of traditional lifestyles as they are with choosing how toexpress cultural identity. In the past,scholars have either employed the model todiscuss identity negotiation among ethnicsin the United States and other coresocieties, or they have dismissed it altogether. The second aim describes theexisting tension between the self-images of the Croatian Jews and those projected onthem by others. Both Croatian “cultural diversity campaigns” and international Jewish support organizations consider Jewish identity to have an essentiallyreligious core. Programs sponsored bythese constituencies have constructed pronounced cultural differences betweenCroatian Jews and non-Jewish Croatians
Topics: Main Topic: Identity and Community, Jewish Identity, Ethnicity, Ethnography, Jewish Community
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.
Topics: Jewish Revival, Jewish Identity, Jewish Culture, Jewish Community, Jewish Continuity, Assimilation, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: Renewed Survival is an ethno-historic account of Jewish community life in Croatia. It traces the community's turbulent history from its inception in the late eighteenth century to the shifting political climate of the 1990s following the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Croatia's separation from Yugoslavia is explored ethnographically by examining the lives of the members of a small community of largely intercultural Jews. Particular attention is paid to the impact of local and transnational cultural changes during this period, wherein Jewish community life in Croatia became the focus of a number of institutional forces such as market capitalism, government-sponsored diversity campaigns, and transnational identity politics (the post-communist 'meaning makers' of Jewish identity). By exploring the multiple strategies employed by Croatian Jews in refashioning their identities, this work challenges both the nostalgic image of a thriving presence of Jewish culture in Croatia as well as the (more prominent) view that Jewish communities in Croatia are on the brink of extinction. The author suggests that the latter view-the 'disappearance thesis'-is belied by the experiences of many Croatian Jews, who continue to derive meaning from Jewish community life, notwithstanding their lack of religious commitment and cultural hybridization.