Skip navigation

Constructions of diaspora-oriented Jewish identities: a comparative case study of individuals in New York city and London

Constructions of diaspora-oriented Jewish identities: a comparative case study of individuals in New York city and London

Goldstein, Rachel Laura (2010) Constructions of diaspora-oriented Jewish identities: a comparative case study of individuals in New York city and London. MPhil thesis, University of Greenwich.

[img] PDF
R_Goldstein_Dissertation_FINAL_06.10.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 16 March 2019.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB)

Abstract

Although historical sources acknowledge the diversity of Jewish identities, recent research tends to focus heavily on religious and Zionist bases for Jewish identities. To explore the research question, “How do Jews outside the mainstream of religion and Zionism construct and maintain alternative Jewish identities?” a case study was crafted to focus on a small sample of individuals from two left-wing, Diaspora-oriented Jewish groups in New York City and London in 1999 – 2000. The project used participant observation, discourse analysis, and in-depth interviews to research members of these groups at this unique historical moment—a time of higher levels of optimism and security as the Holocaust was further in the past and the second intifada in Israel and 9/11 attacks in the US had yet to occur. Semi-structured interviews allowed for detailed personal histories of alternative Jewish identity formation and expression. Significant findings include the fact that non-mainstream Jews find Jewish meaning in culture, history, tradition, politics, and minority status. Furthermore, alternative Jewish identities are constructed and maintained from the margins, in community, through learning, by action, and through redefining rituals. There remain many obstacles but also opportunities for those seeking non-mainstream Jewish identities in the Diaspora, including the inherent fluidity of identity, marginalisation, lack of knowledge, need for rituals, ambivalence and internalised anti-Semitism, potential burnout for activists, and Zionism and Israel/Palestine debates. This study contributes to the fields of Jewish sociology and identity research in applying qualitative methods and more recent identity theories to Jewish identities typically marginalised by both scholars and mainstream Jewish institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jewish identities, Jewish diaspora, non-mainstream Jews, construction of identity, sociology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Creative, Critical & Communication Studies
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 12:58
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/8787

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics