Positioning oneself and being positioned in the 'community': an essay on Jewish ethnography as a 'Jew-ish' ethnographer

  • Ben Kasstan Durham University
Keywords: Judaism, Anthropology and religion, Identity, Ethnology, Community, Self-perception

Abstract

This article offers a reflexive and anthropological contribution to the current volume of Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis. It reflects on the experience of conducting anthropological work at home – or across homes – I considered this research to be an experience of ‘Jewish ethnog-raphy’ as a Jewish ethnographer. However, my own ‘Jew-ish’ background meant that I had become ‘neither- fish nor fowl’ within the field-site, which proved both to be an obstacle to, and an opportunity for, conducting the research. It utilises this experience to challenge the conceptual use of the term ‘community’, which encapsulates considerable diversity but obscures the nuanced differences that can pervade a social body. These reflections demonstrate how positionality can be used as a tool for postgraduate students to untangle the complexities of conducting ethnographic research at ‘home’ or in relation to religious minority groups, where significant intra-group differences of practice and worldviews exist, but may otherwise be concealed by the image of ‘community’.

Label for peer-reviewed scholarly publications
Section
Articles
Published
Apr 11, 2016
How to Cite
Kasstan, B. (2016). Positioning oneself and being positioned in the ’community’: an essay on Jewish ethnography as a ’Jew-ish’ ethnographer. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 27, 264-283. https://doi.org/10.30674/scripta.66579