Boyarin, Jonathan Rutgers University Press, 2013 Library of Congress DS143.B785 2013 | Dewey Decimal 305.8924
From stories of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs and their children, through the Gospel’s Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and to modern Jewish families in fiction, film, and everyday life, the family has been considered key to transmitting Jewish identity. Current discussions about the Jewish family’s supposed traditional character and its alleged contemporary crisis tend to assume that the dynamics of Jewish family life have remained constant from the days of Abraham and Sarah to those of Tevye and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof and on to Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint.
Jonathan Boyarin explores a wide range of scholarship in Jewish studies to argue instead that Jewish family forms and ideologies have varied greatly throughout the times and places where Jewish families have found themselves. He considers a range of family configurations from biblical times to the twenty-first century, including strictly Orthodox communities and new forms of family, including same-sex parents. The book shows the vast canvas of history and culture as well as the social pressures and strategies that have helped shape Jewish families, and suggests productive ways to think about possible futures for Jewish family forms.
Palestine and Jewish History was first published in 1996. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This provocative and personal series of meditations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict argues that it represents a struggle not as much about land and history as about space, time, and memory. Juxtaposing entries from Jonathan Boyarin's field diary with critical and theoretical articulations, Palestine and Jewish History shows not only the unfinished nature of anthropological endeavor, but also the author's personal stake in the ethical predicament of being a Jew at this point in history.
Boyarin comes to Israel as a specialist in modern Jewish studies, an individual who has kin, friends, and colleagues there, a scholar with a long history of peace activism. He interweaves fascinating descriptions of ordinary life-parties, walks, classes, visits to homes-with a selection of his related writings on cultural studies and anthropology. Some sections are polemical; others are witty analyses of bumper stickers, slogans, the ambiguities in conversations. Boyarin foregrounds the messiness and lack of closure inherent in this process, presenting "raw materials" (field notes) in some sections of the book that reappear in other sections as various kinds of "finished" products (conference papers, published articles).
In the process, we learn a good deal about the Middle East and its debates and connections to other places. Boyarin addresses two fundamental issues: the difficulty of linking different sorts of memories and memorializations, and the importance of moving beyond objectivity and multiculturalism into a situated, engaged, and nontotalizing framework for fieldwork and ethnography.
Palestine and Jewish History enacts rather than reports on Boyarin's process of error, pain, impatience, uncertainty, discovery, embarrassment, self-criticism, intellectual struggle, and dawning awareness, challenging and engaging us in the process of discovery. Ultimately, it gives the lie, as the Palestinian presence does in Israel, to any concept of a "finishedness" that successfully conceals its unruly and painful multiple processes.
Jonathan Boyarin is the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Distinguished Professor of Modern Jewish Thought in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Storm from Paradise, co-author of Powers of Diaspora, and the co-editor of Remapping Memory and Jews and Other Differences, all available from Minnesota.
Postzionism: A Reader
Silberstein, Laurence Rutgers University Press, 2008 Library of Congress DS113.4P68 2008 | Dewey Decimal 320.54095694
Postzionism first emerged in the mid-1980s in writings by historians and social scientists that challenged the dominant academic versions of Israeli history, society, and national identity. Subsequently, this critique was expanded and sharpened in the writings of philosophers, cultural critics, legal scholars, and public intellectuals.
This reader provides a broad spectrum of innovative and highly controversial views on Zionism and its place in the global Jewish world of the twenty-first century. While not questioning Israel’s legitimacy as a state, many contributors argue that it has yet to become a fully democratic, pluralistic state in which power is shared among all of its citizens. Essays explore current attitudes about Jewish homeland and diaspora as well as the ways that zionist discourse contributes to the marginalization and exclusion of such minority communities as Palestinian citizens, Jews of Middle-Eastern origin (Mizrahim), women, and the queer community.
An introductory essay describes Postzionism and contextualizes each contribution within the broader discourse. The most complete collection of postzionist documents available in English, this anthology is essential reading for students and scholars of Jewish identity, Middle-Eastern conflict, and Israeli history.
Reasserts the centrality of Jewish culture to contemporary discussions of diaspora.
Diaspora: the scattering of a people, often described as a condition of helplessness and a pathology to be overcome. It can also be, as Jonathan Boyarin and Daniel Boyarin assert in this provocative work, a unique source of power and strength. Focusing on Jewish experience, Powers of Diaspora forcefully argues that diasporic communities exercise a distinct form of cultural power in order to maintain themselves.
With reference to rabbinic culture and contemporary Jewish ethnography, the authors evoke the cultural strategies of Jewish diaspora-of regeneration through statelessness-that should prove increasingly relevant to the dilemmas and possibilities of the "new diasporas" born in the midst and in the aftermath of the modern world-system. Their work exposes the various methods by which peoples in diaspora "legislate" distinctive ways of life and establish formal communal structures, thus creating fluid yet effective boundaries between themselves and the others who surround them, and critiques the internal power dynamics that can sometimes result.
Powers of Diaspora strongly reasserts the place of Jewish culture in contemporary discussions of diaspora, where the cultural politics of postcolonialism have remarginalized Jewish experience; at the same time, it brings insights from studies of other diasporas to bear on the study of Jews. In challenging the equation of diaspora with powerlessness, the book questions the modern nation-state ideal and suggests that diasporic cultural formations offer important clues toward an alternative means of relating culture to polity.
Jonathan Boyarin is an attorney and an independent scholar in the fields of anthropology and Jewish cultural studies. His books include Storm from Paradise: The Politics of Jewish Memory (1992), Palestine and Jewish History: Criticism at the Borders of Ethnography (1996), and Thinking in Jewish (1996). Daniel Boyarin is Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture in the departments of Near Eastern Studies and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Carnal Israel (1993), A Radical Jew (1994), and Unheroic Conduct (1997). These authors also coedited Jews and Other Differences (1997).
Remapping Memory was first published in 1994. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
The essays in this book focus on contested memories in relation to time and space. Within the context of several profound cultural and political conflicts in the contemporary world, the contributors analyze historical self-configurations of human groups, and the construction by these groups of the spaces they shape and that shape them. What emerges is a view of the state as a highly contingent artifact of groups vying for legitimacy-whether through their own sense of "insiderhood," their control of positions within hierarchies, or their control of geographical territories.
Boyarin's lead essay shows how the supposedly "objective" categories of space and time are, in fact, specific products of European modernity. Each case study, in turn, addresses the (re)constitution of space, time, and memory in relation to an event either of historical significance, like the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, or of cultural importance, like the Indian preoccupation with reincarnation. These ethnographic studies explore fundamental questions about the nature of memory, the limits of politics, and the complex links between them.
By focusing on personal and collective identity as the site where constructions of memory and dimensionality are tested, shaped, and effected, the authors offer a new way of understanding how the politics of space, time and memory are negotiated to bring people to terms with their history.
Contributors: Akhil Gupta, Stanford University;
Charles R. Hale, University of California, Davis; Carina Perelli, PEITHO, Montevideo, Uruguay; Jennifer Schirmer, Center for European Studies, Harvard; Daniel A. Segal, Pitzer College, Claremont, California; Lisa Yoneyama, University of California, San Diego.
Storm from Paradise was first published in 1992. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
"Usefully complicating common sense understandings of history, catastrophe, loss, otherness, and possibility through reflections on contemporary Jewishness, Boyarin draws on Benjamins's famous image of the Angel of History blown into the future by a "storm from paradise" to constantly interrogate and recuperate the past, "without pretending for long that we can recoup its plentitude". The book's seven thoughtful essays are at times deliberately intangible but always worth reading. An important book for the rethinking of the relevance of Jewishness to anthropology and cultural studies." –Religious Studies Review
"An essay in the richest sense of that term, inspired by and modeled on Walter Benjamin's essays. Based on varied, diverse, and abundantly cross-disciplinary readings, it moves and builds, questions and interrogates, and ultimately convinces us that the Jewish experience with being the 'other' and, conversely and recently, with 'othering' is indeed relevant to theorists of contemporary culture." –Marianne Hirsch
Jonathan Boyarin is the author of Palestine and Jewish History, and co-editor, with Daniel Boyarin, of Jews and Other Differences and Powers of Diaspora.
Thinking in Jewish
Jonathan Boyarin University of Chicago Press, 1996 Library of Congress DS143.B8 1996 | Dewey Decimal 305.8924
How does one "think" in Jewish? What does it mean to speak in English of Yiddish as Jewish, as a certain intermediary generation of immigrants and children of immigrants from Jewish Eastern Europe has done?
A fascination with this question prompted Jonathan Boyarin, one of America's most original thinkers in critical theory and Jewish ethnography, to offer the unexpected Jewish perspective on the vexed issue of identity politics presented here. Boyarin's essays explore the ways in which a Jewish—or, more particularly, Yiddish—idiom complicates the question of identity. Ranging from explorations of a Lower East Side synagogue to Fichte's and Derrida's contrasting notions of the relation between the Jews and the idea of Europe, from the Lubavitch Hasidim to accounts of self-making by Judith Butler and Charles Taylor, Thinking in Jewish will be indispensable reading for students of critical theory, cultural studies, and Jewish studies.
Europe’s formative encounter with its “others” is still widely assumed to have come with its discovery of the peoples of the New World. But, as Jonathan Boyarin argues, long before 1492 Christian Europe imagined itself in distinction to the Jewish difference within. The presence and image of Jews in Europe afforded the Christian majority a foil against which it could refine and maintain its own identity. In fundamental ways this experience, along with the ongoing contest between Christianity and Islam, shaped the rhetoric, attitudes, and policies of Christian colonizers in the New World.
The Unconverted Self proposes that questions of difference inside Christian Europe not only are inseparable from the painful legacy of colonialism but also reveal Christian domination to be a fragile construct. Boyarin compares the Christian efforts aimed toward European Jews and toward indigenous peoples of the New World, bringing into focus the intersection of colonial expansion with the Inquisition and adding significant nuance to the entire question of the colonial encounter.
Revealing the crucial tension between the Jews as “others within” and the Indians as “others without,” The Unconverted Self is a major reassessment of early modern European identity.