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The Politics of Writing the Self into Jewish Studies

Sun, December 16, 4:15 to 5:45pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 2 Ballroom
Tue, December 18, 8:30 to 10:00am, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 1 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Seminar


This seminar brings together eight scholars (via seven papers) from a variety of disciplines to examine the politics around scholarly subjectivity in Jewish Studies. Through an exploration of the politics of gender, immigration, conversion, crafting, Judaic texts, the Israeli-Palestinian nexus and the college campus, these authors mine questions of power, identity, representation and memory to interrogate the precarious notion of the scholarly "self" in a political context.

As the Jewish daughter of German Jewish refugees, converts to Roman Catholicism in the 1930s, Angela Botelho analyzes literary texts, family archives, and interviews conducted with two generations of descendants to examine the impact of history, memory, and narration on the post-conversion, post-modern, hybrid Jew.

Maria Damon and Adeena Karasick will present a script for a performative exploration of self and identity conducted through an experimental collage that references midrashic and 13th-century Kabbalistic texts, oral and written law, histories of textile-making, literary poeisis, deep etymology and pop culture, all refracted through a metaphoric and material text/textile nexus.

Marc Dollinger explores how Jews navigate power and powerlessness amidst left and right-wing anti-Semitism on the university campus.

Combining narrative vignettes from her ethnographic work on Jews, gender, and craft culture, Jodi Eichler-Levine reflects upon her dual position as a scholar of religion and as a Jewish woman crafter and descendant of crafters; as not just a bearer of memory in words but also in thread.

Aaron Hahn Tapper argues that although integrating an author's social identities into their research has a deep pedagogical value in the field of so-cial justice education, it can also reinforce dominant and subordinate ideas, thus potentially undermining the very intention of the work.

Laura Limonic explores the different dimensions of Jewish cultural and ethno-religious identity through the stories of contemporary Jewish immigrants in the United States.

Through the memoir genre, Mira Sucharov reflects on the role of Jewish summer camp in structuring Diaspora Jewish affiliation with Israel-Palestine, a relationship further refracted through a sometimes fraught scholarly and public-commentator identity.

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