Jewish Studies at the Crossroads of Anthropology and History: Authority, Diaspora, Tradition

Jewish Studies at the Crossroads of Anthropology and History: Authority, Diaspora, Tradition

Jewish Studies at the Crossroads of Anthropology and History: Authority, Diaspora, Tradition

Jewish Studies at the Crossroads of Anthropology and History: Authority, Diaspora, Tradition

Synopsis

Over the past several decades, the field of Jewish studies has expanded to encompass an unprecedented range of research topics, historical periods, geographic regions, and analytical approaches. Yet there have been few systematic efforts to trace these developments, to consider their implications, and to generate new concepts appropriate to a more inclusive view of Jewish culture and society. Jewish Studies at the Crossroads of Anthropology and History brings together scholars in anthropology, history, religious studies, comparative literature, and other fields to chart new directions in Jewish studies across the disciplines.

This groundbreaking volume explores forms of Jewish experience that span the period from antiquity to the present and encompass a wide range of textual, ritual, spatial, and visual materials. The essays give full consideration to non-written expressions of ritual performance, artistic production, spoken narrative, and social experience through whichvolume reconsiders these core concepts, reorienting our understanding of the dynamic relationships between text and practice, and continuity and change in Jewish contexts. More broadly, this volume furthers conversation across the disciplines by using Judaic studies to provoke inquiry into theoretical problems in a range of other areas.

Excerpt

This volume of important essays emerged from the yearlong deliberations of a talented group of scholars invited in 2003–4 to what is now the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Their charge was to explore the theme “Prescriptive Traditions and Lived Experience in the Jewish Religion: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives.” As always, the year was devoted to interdisciplinary scholarship of the highest order, to the rigorous discussion of differing academic perspectives, and to a breaking down of the barriers set up by specialized training and circumscribed fields of study. in this instance, historians with specialties ranging from antiquity to the present were partnered with anthropologists, folklorists, and sociologists for an invigorating conversation about how their methods of scholarly inquiry could intermesh. How might a focus on texts complement or clash with a focus based on lived experience? and how might this fascinating dialectic play out in the traditionally text-oriented fields of Jewish studies?

The exciting results of much of this conversation are now before the reader. It would not be an exaggeration to consider the volume at hand as field-defining, even as expanding and moving Jewish studies into a new era and into a new self-perception of what constitutes Jewish learning. It would also not be an exaggeration to say that just as the conversations upon which it was based were not easy to stage, this volume was not easy to produce. It is one thing to encourage a dialogue between historians and anthropologists; it is quite another to reach a consensus and a common language about the subject of these inquiries. the credit for this achievement rests in the prodigious efforts of the volume’s three editors: Ra‘anan Boustan, a scholar of rabbinic literature and ancient Jewish history; Marina Rustow, a historian of medieval Jewish culture and society; and Oren Kosansky, an anthropologist who works on Jewish communities in Muslim North Africa. Besides their efforts to shape a coherent volume, their introduction stands as a bold and thoughtful statement about their respective disciplines and places within the study of Jewish . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.