Topics: Haredi / Strictly Orthodox Jews, Jewish Neighbourhoods, Jewish Space, Geography, Demography, Jewish Identity, Main Topic: Identity and Community
Abstract: Using theoretical concepts concerning space, identity and boundaries, this thesis examines a contemporary ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Broughton Park, Manchester (located in the north of England). The thesis discusses how these Jews practise and understand their lives within the context of a (post)modem world. Demographically, the overall population of Anglo-Jewry is declining (by as much as a third in the past forty years), with fears expressed about its future survival. Socially, there are major schisms between the different branches of Judaism, with increasing concerns about a polarisation between religious and secular. These factors provide the background to this thesis, which examines arguably the most extreme and still rapidly growing form of Judaism. The thesis uses a theoretical framework which takes seriously post-positivist understandings of space and identity, in which movement, inter-connections and, in particular, processes of hybridity are recognised. Same and other are never pure. Nonetheless, such theoretical conceptions tend to deny particular people's situated attempts to defend, institutionalise and 'slow down' identities and spaces, which are, I argue, key factors in understanding people's everyday lives. While such stabilisations can be described as reactionary, I suggest that they may also be celebrated (although in complex and ambivalent ways) as resistances to forces of homogeneity. Through the empirical materials collected in Broughton Park, a discussion of the institutionalisation of space detailed in the sacred text of the Talmud, and a reconsideration of post-positivist theories to do with identity and space, the thesis draws upon and extends critiques of hybridity as always a (positive) force of resistance, and boundaries as necessarily reactionary and aligned with powers of domination. Overall, it offers a theoretical and methodological framework with which to interrogate 'geographies of Jewry', taking seriously those calls for 'geographies of religion' to make use of post positivist understandings of space and identity.
'An outsider wherever I am?: Transmission of Jewish identity through five generations of a Scottish Jewish family
Topics: Main Topic: Identity and Community, Oral History and Biography, Family and Household, Age and Generational Issues
Abstract: This thesis casts new light on the immigrant experience, focusing on one extended Scottish Jewish family, the descendents of Rabbi Zvi David Hoppenstein and his wife Sophia, who arrived in Scotland in the early 1880s. Going further than other studies by exploring connections and difference through five generations and across five branches of the family, it uses grounded theory and a feminist perspective and draws on secondary sources like census data and contemporary newspaper reports with the early immigrant generations, oral testimony with the third and fourth generations and an innovative use of social networking platforms to engage with the younger generation. It explores Bourdieu’s theories relating to cultural and economic capital and the main themes are examined through the triple lens of generational change, gender and class. The thesis draws out links between food and memory and examines outmarriage and ‘return inmarriage’. It explores the fact that antisemitic and negative reactions from the host community, changing in nature through the generations but always present, have had an effect on people’s sense of their Jewish identity just as much as has the transmission of Jewish identity at home, in the synagogue, in Hebrew classes and in Jewish political, educational, leisure and welfare organisations. It makes an important link between gendered educational opportunities and consequent gendered intergenerational class shift, challenges other studies which view Jewish identity as static and illustrates how the boundary between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ is blurred: the Hoppenstein family offers us a context where we can see clearly how insider and outsider status can be self-assigned, ascribed by others, or mediated by internal gatekeepers.