Anthropological Perspectives on Diaspora and Religious Identities

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2024) | Viewed by 3597

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel
Interests: from an anthropological perspective on the concepts of "diaspora"; ethnicity; Moroccan Jews

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue invites papers that juxtapose three fields: anthropology, diasporas, and religious identities. This juxtaposition can shed light on the intriguing tensions between movement and sedentarism and accompanying concepts such as “strangeness” and “commonsense”.

Anthropology’s trademark, fieldwork, involves distancing anthropologists from their commonsense world, allowing for insights to be gained from the discomfort and challenges of strangeness.

In the same vein, the anthropological study of diasporas—that is, of those socio-cultural groups that are “out of place”, and whose very being is built upon an existential sense of strangeness—can provide a critical perspective on the common sense of their “hosting” societies.

As against these two unsettling fields, we position religious identity that supposedly “establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations…” (Geertz 1965) in individuals and socio-cultural groups.

By bringing these three fields into a conversation, we hope to offer rich and refined understandings concerning the complex and dynamic relationships between movement and sedentarism, strangeness, and common sensuality. We expect that these new understandings will relate to both the observing anthropologist as well as the observed socio-cultural groups. In addition, we strive to collect articles that are both ethnographically varied and theoretically provoking, so that ethnographies from different parts of the world will question the very concepts that are at the heart of this Special Issue.

I look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Andre Levy
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • religious identity
  • diasporas
  • anthropology
  • commonsense
  • strangeness
  • movement
  • sedentarism

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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32 pages, 1087 KiB  
Article
“We Became Religious to Protect Our Children”: Diasporic Religiosity among Moroccan Jewish Families in France and Israel
by Yona Elfassi Abeddour
Religions 2024, 15(5), 587; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050587 - 10 May 2024
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Abstract
This article explores the formation and preservation of a distinctive “Moroccan Judaism” ethos, rooted in a connection to the homeland and an idealized Moroccan past. Through an examination of secularism, traditionalism, and modernity in Israel and France, alongside the resurgence of religiosity in [...] Read more.
This article explores the formation and preservation of a distinctive “Moroccan Judaism” ethos, rooted in a connection to the homeland and an idealized Moroccan past. Through an examination of secularism, traditionalism, and modernity in Israel and France, alongside the resurgence of religiosity in secular societies, it assesses the impact of diasporic experiences on the religious practices of Moroccan-origin families in these countries. The argument posits that diasporic sentiments and the allure of Moroccan heritage significantly influence the negotiation and affirmation of religious identities within these families. Rituals and religious practices serve as expressions of this identity, undergoing adaptation and transformation both in Morocco and abroad. Consequently, “Israeli” and “French” approaches to Moroccan Jewish observance reflect distinct socio-political and historical contexts. The analysis draws from five family cases, illustrating a range of experiences within national and transnational frameworks, enriching our understanding of the dynamic interplay between personal narratives and broader social and historical landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropological Perspectives on Diaspora and Religious Identities)
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17 pages, 2280 KiB  
Article
Celebrating Fifty Years of Jewish Pride: An Autoethnographic View on Queerness, Diaspora and Homeland in an American Gay Synagogue
by Elazar Ben-Lulu
Religions 2024, 15(5), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15050550 - 29 Apr 2024
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Abstract
Anthropologists of religion are preoccupied with questions of identity, community, performance and representation. One way they cope with these concerns is through a reflexive examination of their ethnographic positionality in the field. This provides an opportunity to engage not only with “the other”, [...] Read more.
Anthropologists of religion are preoccupied with questions of identity, community, performance and representation. One way they cope with these concerns is through a reflexive examination of their ethnographic positionality in the field. This provides an opportunity to engage not only with “the other”, but also to explore their own identities and background. This article presents an autoethnographic analysis of Pride Shabbat, a special service held in June to celebrate the intersection of Judaism and queerness. The service took place at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) as part of their 50th-anniversary celebration. Since the 1970s, CBST has been known as the largest gay synagogue in the world and provided diverse religious and spiritual services to the Jewish LGBTQ+ community. Based on my participation in this specific event in June 2023, I draw distinct differences between the Israeli Jewish LGBTQ community and the American Jewish LGBTQ community, such as issues related to ageism and multigenerational perceptions within the gay community, the internal dynamic for gender dominance, as well as diverse trajectories of queerness, religiosity and nationality. Symbolically, contrary to the common perception that the diaspora looks to the state of Israel for symbolic and actual existence, this inquiry sheds light on the opposite perspective; the homeland (represented by the ethnographer) absorbs and learns from the queer Jewish practices and experiences taking place within the diaspora (the American Jewish LGBTQ community). This is an opposite movement which reveals the cracks in the perception of the gay community as a transnational community, as well as the tense power relations between Israel and American Jewry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropological Perspectives on Diaspora and Religious Identities)
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Review

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9 pages, 232 KiB  
Review
The Religious Which Is Political: Revisiting Pnina Werbner’s Imagined Diasporas and Beyond
by Claudia Liebelt
Religions 2024, 15(3), 319; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15030319 - 6 Mar 2024
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Abstract
Dedicated to the memory of Pnina Werbner, this essay revisits Werbner’s ethnographic and conceptual work on the relationship between diaspora and religion through a close reading of her book on Imagined Diasporas among Manchester Muslims and her later engagements with the concept of [...] Read more.
Dedicated to the memory of Pnina Werbner, this essay revisits Werbner’s ethnographic and conceptual work on the relationship between diaspora and religion through a close reading of her book on Imagined Diasporas among Manchester Muslims and her later engagements with the concept of diaspora with respect to religion and the background of her work on African and Filipino labour diasporas in the West. It argues that many of Werbner’s insights remain pertinent today, not least because in many European contexts Muslim-background citizens and non-citizens remain excluded from full belonging and are still forced to engage in constant perspectival manoeuvring similar to Werbner’s earlier interlocutors. While the notion of diaspora has lost much of its earlier conceptual verve, in its Werbnerian reading, I argue, it may still offer a scholarly tool for analysing the multiple imaginations, belongings, and ambiguities of migrants’ and religious minorities’ self-representations and complex lives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Anthropological Perspectives on Diaspora and Religious Identities)
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