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Author(s): Taragin-Zeller, Lea
Date: 2024
Abstract: During the past 15 years, there has been a rapid increase in interfaith initiatives in the United Kingdom. Even though the “interfaith industry,” as some have cynically called it, has rapidly increased, the involvement of women in these groups has been relatively low. Based on ethnographic data, including 20 interviews and 3 years of fieldwork with female interfaith activists in the United Kingdom (2017–2020), this ethnography focuses on the emergence of Jewish and Muslim female interfaith initiatives, analyzing the creative ways religious women negotiate their challenges and struggles as women of faith, together. I examine the ways Jewish and Muslim women form nuanced representations of female piety that disrupt “strictly observant” gendered representations, thus diversifying the binary categories of what being Jewish, or Muslim, entails. Further, whereas former studies have focused on interfaith settings as crucial for the construction of religious identities, I show that interfaith activism also serves as a site for religious minorities to learn how to become British citizens. In a highly politicized Britain, where allegations of racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia prevail, I argue that Jewish-Muslim encounters are sites for the construction and performances of British civic citizenship well beyond the prescriptions of the state. Drawing on these findings, I situate interfaith activism at the anthropological intersection of gender, religion, and citizenship, and as a site that reproduces and disrupts minority-state relationality.
Editor(s): Hartman, Harriet
Date: 2024
Abstract: There are less than 1300 Jews living in Finland who are members in the two officially Orthodox Jewish communities in Helsinki and in Turku. After the Civil Marriage Act was put in effect by the Finnish Parliament in 1917 the number of intermarriages between Jews and non-Jews started rising in the communities. Most of these marriages were officiated between Jewish men and non-Jewish women. In the beginning, the non-Jewish spouses kept their respective religious affiliations, but in many cases, their halachically non-Jewish children converted to Judaism. In the 1970s, adulthood conversions to Judaism became far more frequent in the communities—especially in the Jewish Community of Helsinki. Today, most of these individuals and their families concerned are still active members of the Jewish congregation. The high number of intermarriages and the conversions to Judaism have had a crucial impact on the development of the religious customs of local Jewry. Through the analysis of archival sources and new ethnographic material derived from semi-structured qualitative interviews, this case study investigates how intermarriages formed the traditions and habits in the families and in the communities. By relating the topic of intermarriage to the question of conversion, the study sheds light on institutional changes within the Jewish Community of Helsinki, and analyzes how women, who converted to Judaism in 1977, articulate and perform their religious practices, identities, and agencies when consciously aiming at building Jewish families.
Author(s): Placzynta, Karolina
Date: 2024
Abstract: Despite the benefits of the intersectional approach to antisemitism studies, it seems to have been given little attention so far. This chapter compares the online reactions to two UK news stories, both centred around the common theme of cultural boycott of Israel in support of the BDS movement, both with a well-known female figure at the centre of media coverage, only one of which identifies as Jewish. In the case of British television presenter Rachel Riley, a person is attacked for being female as well as Jewish, with misogyny compounding the antisemitic commentary. In the case of the Irish writer Sally Rooney, misogynistic discourse is used to strengthen the message countering antisemitism. The contrastive analysis of the two datasets, with references to similar analyses of media stories centred around well-known men, illuminates the relationships between the two forms of hate, revealing that—even where the antisemitic attitudes overlap— misogynistic insults and disempowering or undermining language are being weaponised on both sides of the debate, with additional characterisation of Riley as a “grifter” and Rooney as “naive”.

More research comparing discourses around Jewish and non-Jewish women is needed to ascertain whether this pattern is consistent; meanwhile, the many analogies in the abuse suffered by both groups can perhaps serve a useful purpose: shared struggles can foster understanding needed to then notice the particularised prejudice. By including more than one hate ideology in the research design, intersectionality offers exciting new approaches to studies of antisemitism and, more broadly, of
hate speech or discrimination.
Date: 2023
Abstract: Using a ‘lived religion’ approach, this chapter analyses interviews conducted with Orthodox Jewish women to investigate how women learn about kashrut [Jewish dietary] rules, the resources they use when dealing with kashrut problems, and the kashrut practices that they develop themselves. The research shows the persistence of mimetic, family-based models in the transmission and practice of kashrut among women, thus challenging the scholar Haym Soloveitchik’s famous claim that text-based learning has superseded mimetic learning in the modern Jewish world. The chapter suggests that the two types of learning are strongly gendered, and it explores the differences between the ways men and women learn about and understand kashrut practices. The research highlights the difference, and the tense relationship, between elite text-based culture (almost exclusively male in the Orthodox Jewish world) and popular practice (largely in the hands of women in Orthodox daily kashrut observance) and raises issues of rabbinic control and authority versus family loyalty and self-confidence. The study reveals the divergence between a nominally hegemonic authority of elite, male-authored texts and their interpretation by rabbis, and an unacknowledged lived religion in which women decide everyday ritual practice. Taylor-Guthartz suggests that to gain a complete picture of any religious tradition, knowledge of its elite written aspects must be balanced with the investigation of lived, everyday religious practice, and the complex relationships between these two elements must be appreciated and understood.
Date: 2023
Date: 2023
Date: 2020
Date: 2020
Abstract: This chapter analyses the intersections between Judaism, conversion, belonging, and gender, through the lived material practice of the tallit. Conversion to a religious tradition is not merely a change in mind set, but rather implies the learning, performance and negotiation of a religious habitus. This is especially the case with conversions to Judaism, or giyur, which focuses on the learning of practices and commitment to synagogue life. Such process of ‘self-making’ is directly related to questions of gender and the possibility of taking on certain objects and tasks. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this chapter traces how conversion materialises in daily ritual practice for women in various Jewish communities in the specific ritual use of the prayer shawl, or tallit. Gender equality has been one of the prime topics by which liberal Judaism came to distinguish itself from orthodoxy in the Netherlands. A symbol of this difference is the use of the tallit by women, both in the local Dutch context as well as internationally. Historically, women have been excluded from Shul life, and wearing a tallit, as is permitted in liberal synagogues, can be revolutionary as a marker of inclusion. For converted women in the Jewish diaspora of the Netherlands, wearing the tallit in service can be a confirmation of their Jewishness, but is more often met with ambivalence. Some don’t practice, because they do not want to disturb the status quo, or because they see value in gender segregation in shul. Others do, for equally varied reasons, from political quests for emancipation, to pious desires for submission and devotion. As a compromise, specific forms of ‘women’s tallit’ have entered the synagogues, worn by women who do so out of pious desire. This chapter starts from these various prayer shawl practices, to trace broader questions of belonging. It asks not only how this object is used, but also which types of gender discourses, pious desires, and notions of agency are expressed through the use (or lack thereof) of a tallit.
Date: 2022
Abstract: My thesis is an empirical study of young British Jews, exploring their experience of being Jewish, British, and male in society today given the fluid nature of each of these aspects of their identity. As society has changed over the last half century each of these aspects which had normative monocultural taken-for-granted expressions have been repeatedly deconstructed, examined and re-built, and I argue that in the process they have emerged as fluid entities. It is in negotiating these fluid aspects that today’s young male Jews ask, what does it mean to be a Jew, what does it mean to be British, and what does it mean to be male as they try to make sense of their lives. The method chosen for this study has been the in-depth interview which I conducted with a sample of 16 interviewees chosen to reflect the diverse range of religiosity, age and intellectual ability which is apparent in the heterogenous nature of the Anglo-Jewish community supplemented with a group discussion. I have produced an interview tool of overlapping coloured discs representing the three aspects I am studying as an aid for the interviewee to think and talk about themselves. I have transcribed the interviews and used constructionist thematic analysis to advance my argument. I argue that Jewishness is constructed between extremes of adherence to halachic requirement on one hand and a Jewishness experienced as cultural affinity to history, family, and tradition without recourse to halacha on the other hand. I argue that Britishness is being experienced between varying degrees of nationalistic localism against cosmopolitan liberalism played out against a backdrop of Britain contrasted with the rest of the world and also London against the rest of Britain. With regard to being male, I have rejected the view that masculinity is constructed in the inherently unstable terms of physicality against intellectualism. Instead, I argue that it is better considered as lying in a range between competitive hegemonic masculinity on the one hand against a cooperative model with which physicality and intellectualism can combine to produce a more stable and emotionally satisfying mode of living. I argue that young Jewish men inhabit a fluid three-dimensional matrix being aware of the pitfalls of particularism, xenophobia, and misogyny as they negotiate their relationships with their families, communities, and wider society to construct their Jewish British masculine identity.
Author(s): Stögner, Karin
Date: 2022
Date: 2020
Abstract: In the Netherlands, religions are often positioned as opposite to secular ideals of women’s freedom. While women’s emancipation supposedly grants women their autonomy, religions are suspected of reaffirming gender inequality. In this religion-versus-emancipation dilemma, questions of the body are pertinent, since traditional religions are framed as restricting and regulating women’s bodies. Questions about modesty, sexual relations, clothing and food preparations often come up in such debates. There seems to be a particular tension for women who convert to religions that are often regarded as ‘gender conservative’, and this chapter sheds light on that field of tension. This expands the field of women’s conversion – which has typically focused on Islamic women – by employing a comparative analysis of interviews and participant observation with Jewish, Christian and Muslim Dutch women converts. Joining a religion that one was not raised in is a process of ethical self-fashioning through training and disciplining of both the body and mind. Converts have to learn how to eat, how to pray, how to dress and how to have sex in such a way that it permits them to give shape to their religious subjectivity and pious desires. What I found is that performing authenticity is a central and embodied characteristic of modern-day conversion stories in the ‘age of authenticity’. This performance is often played out through the sexual and gendered body and religious subject transformations were closely related to sexual self-fashioning. In order to understand these links between conversion, sexuality and the body, I focus on experiences and ideas about virginity and marriage, menstruation and homosexuality. In this chapter, I aim to show that sexual embodiments and ethics cannot be understood as either religious or secular, but rather as a new form of religious subjectivity within Europe as a space where authenticity has become the most important mode for selfhood.
Date: 2021
Abstract: With Finnish independence in 1917, long-awaited legislative reforms were put in force in the country. Jews gained the right to obtain Finnish citizenship. The same year, the Finnish Parliament implemented the Civil Marriage Act (CMA), allowing the country’s Jewish citizens to marry non-Jews without converting to Christianity. In 1922, the constitutional right to freedom of religion was affirmed in the Freedom of Religion Act (FRA), granting the right to practice religion in public and private and allowing Finnish citizens to refrain from belonging to any religious community altogether. The FRA also addressed the question of children whose parents belonged to different religious congregations or who were unaffiliated. The FRA defined the religious affiliation of children after their father; this was, however, against the Orthodox Jewish law (halakhah) that the local Finnish Jewish communities wished to follow, which traced a child’s religious affiliation matrilineally.

Due to the small size of the Jewish marriage market and to the secularizing tendencies of the Jewish congregations, the number of intermarriages started to grow in the early twentieth century, and soon, they became a characteristic phenomenon of Finnish Jewish realities. This resulted in a growing number of halakhically non-Jewish children. Thus, the communities faced several challenges in terms of their administration and everyday practices.

This article-based dissertation provides an overview of Finnish-Jewish intermarriages from 1917 until the present by analyzing archival materials together with newly collected semi-structured ethnographic interviews. The interviews were conducted with members of the communities who are partners in intermarriages, either as individuals who married out or as individuals who married in and converted to Judaism. The key theoretical underpinning of the study is vernacular religion, which is complemented by relevant international research on contemporary interreligious Jewish families.

The results of the study show that while most informants understand Jewish law flexibly and rarely consider themselves “religious,” the differences between the practices of intermarried men and women are remarkable. Whereas women employ creativity and “do Judaism” to establish practices they consider meaningful for their Jewishness and Jewish identity, men tend to draw on their cultural heritage and often refrain from creative practices. The study also indicates that the adult conversion of women is far more common than that of men, making conversion a gendered phenomenon in the Finnish Jewish communities. Most informants of this study “do Judaism” in various ways and often choose to perform certain traditions to strengthen their connection to Judaism and ensure Jewish continuity through their children. Intermarried members and converts form a large part of the Finnish Jewish communities, and thus the results shed light on patterns that can be assumed to characterize multiple Finnish Jewish households.
Author(s): Graff, Agnieszka
Date: 2018
Author(s): Kranz, Dani
Date: 2021
Date: 2015
Abstract: À travers un retour sur nos terrains ethnologiques respectifs, nous nous proposons de comprendre comment se construisent les espaces du culte dans les rapports de genre. Ces terrains sont situés dans la périphérie parisienne, à Sarcelles, qui a connu une concentration importante de « populations juives », émigrées d’Afrique du Nord, depuis une ou deux générations; à Marseille et dans sa périphérie, première région où les « populations musulmanes » émigrées se sont installées en métropole, qui aujourd’hui sont majoritairement d’origine maghrébine et comorienne. Mais ils sont essentiellement circonscrits par des pratiques juives et musulmanes qui peuvent être multisituées et plurielles davantage que par des sites particuliers.

Nous souhaitons entrer dans les rapports de genre autrement qu’à partir des rapports constitués, ceux qui attribuent, en particulier dans l’univers religieux, des places différentes aux hommes et aux femmes contribuant à construire des positions et des identifications sexuées, conscientes ou non. Nous interrogeons donc les positions affichées, montrant la dynamique des relations, des jeux, des non-dits, prenant en compte les interactions entre les deux positions sexuées. De même, tenant compte de la façon dont les sujets construisent l’espace du culte, nos contributions respectives portent sur une ethnologie du quotidien, privilégiant l’étude des interstices et des entre-deux établissant ainsi une comparaison entre nos deux terrains par l’analyse d’axes transversaux.
Nous entendons « espace du culte » au sens d’un espace, qui sans être nécessairement construit à cet effet, est cependant institué et clairement défini spatialement et temporellement. Nous ne restreignons pas l’espace du culte à celui de la synagogue ou de la mosquée, d’une part parce que les édifices officiels sont trop étroits pour contenir la masse des fidèles qui investissent d’autres lieux ; d’autre part, parce que dans le judaïsme, comme en islam, les femmes ne sont pas obligées de fréquenter les lieux de culte au même titre que les hommes. Nous analysons donc plusieurs types d’espace – intermédiaire, interstitiel, privé mais sacralisé par des rituels – ainsi que les modalités de leur investissement. Ceux qui sont officiellement dédiés au culte doivent leur caractère religieux à la pratique collective permettant au groupe de faire communauté le temps d’un office. Mais ces lieux sont investis aussi par des relations sociales profanes et marqués par une alternance de temps religieux et de temps ordinaires. La multifonctionnalité des espaces du culte induit des spatialités mobiles liées aux diverses temporalités. Les temporalités, dans les espaces du culte, alternent temps ordinaires et temps religieux. Il arrive que des interactions sociales liées aux temps ordinaires interviennent dans les temps religieux et inversement. Les temporalités ne sont donc pas fixes mais aussi fluctuantes que les espaces sont poreux.

Au delà des règles dogmatiques légiférant l’accès des observantes juives ou musulmanes aux espaces du culte et qui contribuent à assigner un statut différencié aux femmes, nous verrons que la position et les identifications sexuées se construisent aussi dans l’interaction à l’autre.

Dans cette contribution, nous n’avons pas cherché à neutraliser le genre des chercheures pas plus que celui des sujets. Les situations vécues ont des effets sur l’ethnologue qui l’amènent à négocier et reconstruire constamment sa posture. Elles sont décrites ici comme des situations interstitielles, « d’entre-deux » ; comme des révélateurs de la construction sociale des genres, d’enjeux de statuts et de pouvoir qui nous informent sur le contexte « minoritaire » de l’islam et du judaïsme dans la société laïque française.
Date: 2015
Author(s): Vuola, Elina
Date: 2019
Author(s): Schaum, Ina
Date: 2018
Abstract: Im Zentrum des Dissertationsprojektes steht die empirisch verankerte Erarbeitung einer intersektionellen, feministischen Theorie von Liebe und Liebesbeziehungen als Orte des Doing Gender in Verschränkung mit Doing Being Jewish (Jüdischsein) bzw. mit Doing Being German (Deutschsein). Was Jüdischsein und Deutschsein bedeutet und wie es konzeptualisiert werden kann, soll durch die Erhebung narrativer Interview empirisch rekonstruiert werden.

Die Dissertation hat zwei Ausgangspunkte. Der erste ist, sich Liebe als eigenständigem Forschungsgegenstand feministischer Analyse zuzuwenden. In Liebesbeziehungen – als verkörperlichte Erfahrungen von Liebe und Begehren, Macht und Dominanz – werden Geschlechterverhältnisse und andere Ungleichverhältnisse und damit zusammenhängend vergeschlechtlichte Arbeitsteilungen von care work und emotional work (re)produziert, verändert, aufgehoben oder legitimiert. Der zweite Ausgangspunkt ist die Feststellung von Kurt Grünberg in seiner Studie „Liebe nach Auschwitz“ (2000), dass Liebesbeziehungen den wohl intimsten Kontakt zwischen Nachkommen von Überlebenden der Shoah und Nachkommen von Täter*innen, Mitläufer*innen und Nazi-Sympathisant*innen im Land der Täter*innen und Opfer bilden. Vor dem Hintergrund der Shoah und der Nürnberger Gesetze von 1935, welche das sogenannte „Blutschutzgesetz“ und das Verbot von Eheschließungen und Geschlechtsverkehr zwischen Juden/Jüdinnen* und Nicht-Juden/Jüdinnen* umfassten, ist zu fragen, welche Gefühlserbschaften und Erinnerungen (active memory) an die Folgegenerationen weitergegeben werden und wie intime Beziehungen und Liebesbeziehungen davon (nicht) beeinflusst werden. Die beiden Ausgangspunkte sollen miteinander verknüpft werden, um eine kritische, intersektionelle feministische Analyseperspektive in Bezug auf Liebesbeziehungen als auch auf die komplexen Differenz- und Identitätskonstruktionen von Jüdischsein und Deutschsein einzunehmen.

Außerdem sollen forschungsethische Überlegungen in Hinblick auf Theoriebildungsprozesse, Methodenentwicklung und Ergebnisdarstellung im Kontext der „negativen deutsch-jüdischen Symbiose“ (Diner 1986) einerseits und einer feministischen Epistemologie des „situierten Wissens“ (Haraway 1988) andererseits entwickelt werden, da die individuelle, familiäre und soziale Verstrickung mit dem Nationalsozialismus keine Position der Unbeteiligtheit zulässt und eine reflektierte und selbstkritische Positionierung von mir als Forscherin verlangt.
Date: 2011
Abstract: Au carrefour des études de genre, de la sociologie des religions, et de la sociologie politique, cette recherche explore la dimension locale des conflits religieux sur le genre à partir du cas du judaïsme français des années 2000 et la fabrique organisationnelle du genre et de l'identité juive dans les synagogues non orthodoxes en France, qui se caractérisent notamment par l'ouverture du rituel aux femmes. L'approche ethnographique permet d'analyser les dispositifs de socialisation (comme l'organisation de l'espace, du rituel, de la prise de parole, de la formation religieuse, de la mobilisation pour le développement de la synagogue) qui contribuent à la production locale du genre. En particulier, cette thèse montre comment la perception de la division sexuée du travail dans l'organisation, l'appropriation des débats religieux sur le genre, la légitimité de mobilisations locales pour la participation des femmes au rituel, dépendent de la position de chaque organisation dans les concurrences religieuses. Dans une configuration où la place des femmes dans l'espace religieux est utilisée comme marqueur symbolique entre courants religieux en concurrence pour la définition de l'identité juive (configuration que l'on propose d'appeler plus généralement politisation religieuse du genre) la participation répétée au rituel et aux activités de la synagogue engendre un intérêt pratique pour le genre, qui se traduit notamment par une fierté égalitaire masculine et par une injonction féminine à la justification. Si les travaux sur genre et religion ont surtout abordé les contextes religieux conservateurs, cette recherche explore la normativité des contextes religieux égalitaires
Author(s): Longman, Chia
Date: 2010
Abstract: In deze bijdrage wordt een synthese gebracht van de resultaten van twee socioculturele
antropologische onderzoeksprojecten in de Antwerpse joodsorthodoxe
gemeenschap die betrekking hebben op de ‘eigenheid’, ‘emancipatie’ en ‘integratie’
van vrouwen. Eerst wordt de betekenis van vrouwelijke religiositeit vanuit het
standpunt van strikt Orthodoxe, waaronder chassidische, vrouwen belicht. Terwijl in
het publieke en institutionele religieus domein mannen de paradigmatische ‘orthodoxe
jood’ zijn, is door de sacralisatie van het dagelijkse leven, de religieuze rol voor
vrouwen niet minder omvattend of belangrijk, maar vooral gesitueerd in de private en
huiselijke sfeer. Ik beargumenteer dat deze vorm van religieuze en gegenderde
eigenheid vanuit een antropologisch en gender-kritisch perspectief niet eenduidig
geïnterpreteerd kan worden in termen van ‘onderdrukking’ dan wel ‘emancipatie’. Het
tweede onderzoeksproject behandelt de problematiek van joodsorthodoxe vrouwen
(gaande van strikt tot modern orthodox) in Antwerpen die religieuze gendernormen
overschrijden door te studeren of werken in de omliggende seculiere maatschappij. De
levensverhalen onthullen zeer verschillende trajecten van vrouwen die de ontmoeting
met de ‘buitenwereld’ dikwijls verrijkend vonden maar ook wel interculturele
conflicten ervoeren. Er wordt besloten dat behoud van culturele eigenheid, naast
emancipatie en integratie van binnen uit de joodsorthodoxe gemeenschap niet
onmogelijk is, maar dat dit minimaal wederzijds dialoog en begrip vereist.

Date: 2009
Abstract: From the Introduction by Rosalind Peston (Chair of the Task Force): Since the publication of Women in the Jewish Community in 1994
I have been asked on numerous occasions, ‘What happened to your
report and its many recommendations?’.
In 2008 I approached the Board of Deputies of British Jews with a
view to re-visiting the work we had carried out a decade and a half
earlier. It soon became apparent that we had to broaden the scope
of our original project, reaching out not just to those women who
contributed to the ideas in our 1994 report and whose lives had
now moved on, but to a whole new generation of younger Jews.
The intervening fifteen years had seen many changes in family
structure and attitudes to personal relationships, in the economic
climate and above all in the ways in which we communicate through
new technologies. How had these changes impacted on women’s
lives, on their approaches to their Judaism and on their sense of
Jewish heritage? How had they influenced women’s perception
of community?
One of the most exciting elements of the 2009 Review was our
on-line survey facilitated by SurveyMonkey. Through this survey
along with our focus and discussion groups, Facebook site,
questionnaires and face to face meetings we elicited the views
and opinions of almost a thousand Jewish women.
We decided to let the women speak for themselves and this report
Connection, Continuity and Community: British Jewish Women
Speak Out is the result. We believe it represents the authentic
voice of female Jewry in Britain today. Women are very articulate
about their desire for a cohesive, dynamic, inclusive community.
We sincerely hope they will be listened to and that the leadership
of the community, across the religious spectrum, will heed their
concerns and their hopes.