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Studies of Indian Jewish Identity

Nathan Katz (Editor)

This book about Indian Jewish identity is an attempt 'self definition'. It raises basic questions like - who the Jews of India are, are they Jewish or Indian? It then proceeds to answer them by delving deep into cultural mechanisms by which India's Jews came to define themselves and how they were defined by other. In doing this it explores the conditions by which  a group's identity is established and maintained. How it responds to changing conditions and how it anticipates and structures a future. This book, therefore, is about at least two subjects. First, it is descriptive and ethnographic. It describes the beliefs and attitudes, the rituals and histories, which conditioned the identities of three distinct communities of Indian Jews. Second, it is analytical and therefore reflexive; it adheres to the standard of scholarship which insists that in studying the 'other' we learn about ourselves. The seven essays in the book analyze Indian Jewish identity as a complex product of four interrelated phenomena. First, there is the historical trajectory, the construction of a suitable narrative. Second, there are social trajectory, the construction of a suitable narrative. Second, there are social trajectories of the present, the patterns underlying social interactions with Gentle neighbors, which also defined the group. Third, there are the trajectories of the future, which is to say how modernization, Zionism and Indian nationalism came to reconstellate Jewish identity by directing toward new sometimes competing, goals, Finally, there is the role of religion, not merely as a template of ethnic identity but as a system of rituals and norms which defined and celebrated the very identities of India's Jews.

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Bibliographic information

Title Studies of Indian Jewish Identity
Author Nathan Katz
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2004
Edition Reprint
Language: English
isbn 9788173040719
length vi+203p., B/w Plates; Notes; 23cm.