CFP: Intersections of Jewish and Postcolonial Thought (AJS 2013)


I found this call for papers online at H-Judaic and wanted to post it here. The contact information appears below:

Postcolonial theory is one of the most influential theoretical strands of our time and it has a profound impact on the study of various fields within Jewish Studies. Yet—with a few exceptions—its relevance for the study of Jewish thought has not been sufficiently addressed in scholarship. We would like to organize a panel around possible connections between Jewish thought and postcolonial theory for the upcoming AJS conference in Boston (December 2013). 

The proposed panel will bring Jewish thought into dialogue with postcolonial theory: How does Jewish philosophy serve as the colonized other of general philosophy? What are the power-relations involved in different modes of dialogical thinking? To what extent do colonial fantasies, and critique of them, shape Jewish political theory? Can Jewish thinkers be considered as writing from a subaltern position? What is the meaning of debates on Jewish essence in a post-essentialist age? 

We invite submissions that deal with these and other questions related to the theme. Please send 350 words abstract and a short biographical paragraph by April 21st to Yaniv Feller

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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9 Responses to CFP: Intersections of Jewish and Postcolonial Thought (AJS 2013)

  1. efmooney says:

    Just a thought, Zak: what if we turned the assumption upside down. If Bible is an apogee of Jewish thought, perhaps it has been a ‘colonial, colonizing power’ coordinate (as ‘Jerusalem’ with ‘general philosophy’ (as ‘Athens’)?

    • zjb says:

      is that the rub, Ed. –the Hebrew Bible as both a colonizing and colonized figure?

      • efmooney says:

        Yes, that’s the rub. And does “Jewish thought” encompass Marx, Freud, and Einstein? Or Buber, Arendt, and Derrida? Aren’t these more colonizing than colonized? The idea of Jewish thought as ‘subaltern’ just seems off the mark.

  2. dmfant says:

    at some point post-colonial studies bleed into performative/practice studies and raise questions along the lines of is there some-thing that is Judaism apart from what Jewish people do, and than who are Jewish people and who gets to decide such matters of identity, do we all end up as ethnographers working out variations of extended-mind hypotheses?

    • zjb says:

      it’s tricky. it comes up in modern Jewish art studies a lot. my own sense is that it all depends upon how a narrow a platform you postulate, and what one makes of associational networks that may or may not have anything to do with “Jewish” “content” as much as a social form.

  3. dmfant says:
    “According to musician Ben Sidran, Jews helped shape the iconic American songbook, from George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, to Bob Dylan (aka Bob Zimmerman). The longtime jazz keyboard player and former NPR music host talks about his book, “There Was a Fire,” and the roots of American music.”

  4. evanstonjew says:

    Boyarin in his book Unheroic Conduct and elsewhere defends the thesis that Jews are an example of a colonized people. He claims that Jews were an internalized colony of Christian Europe, who despite centuries of limited autonomy were never fully free and independent until more recent times. Our quest for bildung and culture is on this view an example of an identification with the aggressor. This thesis sounds more plausible when reading about the attempts of European Jews in the past to fit in with their larger society. When applied to our own times it seems as false to us as it did to our assimilating ancestors back then. Part of the choseness of the Jewish people is that we get to decide when we are outsiders looking in and when we are part of the culture.

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