Jewish Anthropology in the 21st Century

Rohee Dasgupta's picture

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Call for Papers
March 31, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Social Sciences, Sociology, Urban History / Studies, Jewish History / Studies

This is a call for papers for an edited collection entitled: Jewish Anthropology in the 21st Century.

What does it mean to be Jewish in the twenty-first century? The proposed volume will discuss how this question may be answered in light of some of the most topical current debates in social/cultural anthropology, and, at the same time, will demonstrate how this question can offer a novel analytical perspective on these debates.

As anthropologist Jonathan Webber observed, ‘Right from its origins in Biblical antiquity, Jewish identity has oscillated between two contradictory premises: an underlying belief in the unity and continuity of the Jewish people, despite an awareness of the existence of considerable ethnographic diversity; and a feeling that the Jewish community of one’s own village or town constituted the only true Jewish identity, despite the knowledge that other Jewish communities existed, even in very faraway lands’ (Webber 1994: 74). The problem of the relationship between different dimensions of Jewishness, some of which are seen to be embedded in Jewish genealogy and others of which are construed along the lines of cultural and religious affiliation, is one of the central issues in anthropology of Judaism and in Jewish Studies in general, where essentialist conceptualizations of Judaism and Jewish culture have in the past decades been challenged by commentators coming from the perspective of critical theory, who generally see the theoretical foundations of essentialist thinking as problematic.

Papers for the edited collection will put key Jewish Studies questions in dialogue with major theoretical concerns and agendas of a number of areas of social anthropological inquiry. We welcome papers on Jewish communities in different parts of the world. Studies exploring conversion to Judaism, as well as the emergence of ‘alternative’ Jewish communities and their approach to Jewish identity would be of interest for the proposed volume.

  • What do varying understandings of what it means to be Jewish tell us about contemporary constructions of what it means to be a human being and/or a fellow citizen?
  • What is the relationship between political citizenship and personal understandings of belonging?
  • How do Jewish identities intersect with notions of inclusion and exclusion?
  • What can research into contemporary Jewish cultures contribute to debates about transnationalism?
  • What new relations can be explored between Jewishness and Cosmopolitanism?
  • How notions of Jewishness highlight the multiple and conflicting dimensions of the relationship between race and religion?
  • How new ways of building dialogue between communities in the Diaspora and Israel redefine Jewish identity?

We welcome contributors to address these questions by exploring the complexity of Jewish sociality, religion and culture, where multiple identities interact, mirror and contrast each other.  We are aiming for papers that will take one set of ethnographic examples stemming from contemporary Jewish cultures and discuss what new analytical light it can cast on an inquiry of anthropological concern.

The volume editors are: Dr. Rohee Dasgupta, Associate Professor in the Jindal School of International Affairs and Convener, Jindal Centre for Israel Studies, O.P. Jindal Global University and Dr. Yulia Egorova, Reader in the Department of Anthropology and Centre Director in the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics, Durham University.

We welcome scholars from the fields of Anthropology, Sociology, Politics and International Relations, Socio-legal Studies, Jewish Studies, Israel Studies, Political Geography, Urban Heritage Studies to especially contribute to this volume.

Papers are expected to be of max. 8000 words and follow Harvard reference style. They need to be submitted by March 31, 2018. Please email your paper with a 250 word abstract and a 300 word author biography to:

Contact Info: 
Dr. Rohee Dasgupta
Associate Professor and Convener, Jindal Centre for Israel Studies (JCIS)
Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA)
O.P. Jindal Global University


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