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Veranstaltungen von Dr. Sacha Kagan


Queering Jewish Heritage: Iridescence and Potentiality (FSL) (Seminar)

Dozent/in: Sacha Kagan

14-täglich | Montag | 10:15 - 13:45 | 02.04.2024 - 05.07.2024 | C 14.201 Seminarraum
Einzeltermin | Mo, 27.05.2024, 10:15 - Mo, 27.05.2024, 13:45 | C 14.201 Seminarraum
Einzeltermin | Mo, 10.06.2024, 10:15 - Mo, 10.06.2024, 13:45 | C 14.201 Seminarraum

Inhalt: Recent decades have seen an explicit articulation of the intersection of Jewish and queer identities, and a growing visibility of queering perspectives in contemporary cultural production and onto Jewish Heritage, especially in North-America but also more recently in Europe. In contemporary Jewish cultures, queer approaches to gender, sexuality, identity, family and communal life have grown in recognition, across a diversity of Jewish communities. In this context, the Jewish past is being revisited with queer eyes. Nonetheless, many LGBTQ + and Jewish identified persons still experience conflicts and tensions, coping mechanisms and negotiations of identities. In much of modern history, externally imposed perceptions of Jewish persons as ‘queer’, coming from the Christian and secular majority society, were articulated as part of antisemitism. Besides contributing to a critical awareness of the complex intersectionality of queer+Jewish histories, academic and artistic researchers also contribute to the agency of queer+Jewish identifications through the reclamation of a queer Jewish Heritage. This seminar explores these intersections of Jewish and Queer cultures and heritage. In academia, theoretical advances were initiated at the intersection of Jewish identity and queer theory, exploring potential correlations between the inventions of the modern notions of “the Jew” and “the homosexual”, links between homophobia and antisemitism, contradicting models of masculinities and further intersectional concerns (Boyarin 1997; Boyarin, Itzkovitz & Pellegrini 2003). Jewish Studies scholars (e.g. Sienna 2019), have retraced queer dimensions over the past two millennia, initiating a reversal of the “writing out” of queers from Jewish history. LGBTQ Jews in North America have developed specific cultural and/or religious practices (Balka & Rose 1991, Shneer & Aviv 2002). Liberal branches of Judaism have witnessed queering developments within religion, sooner or later followed by other denominations. Some authors have proclaimed a queer “revolution” in liberal Judaism (Romain & Mitchell 2020). Gay synagogues (Shokheid 1995) and a Lesbian rabbinic discourse (Alpert, Elwell & Idelson 2001) have emerged in North-America in the late 20th Century. Queer interpretations of religion have been combined with transformative ambitions for communities (Drinkwater, Lesser & Shneer 2009). This involves "midrash" (i.e. narrative interpretations of the underlying significance of a biblical text) created by contemporary queer-oriented artists/authors (e.g. Ladin 2018, Ramer 2020) and poets (Hammer 2017). The queering of Jewish cultures has affected various areas of communal life, such as e.g. families (Fishman 2015), education (Shneer 2002) and the Yiddish language (Shandler 2006). The seminar will explore Queer+Jewish cultural production, and its relation to the cultural heritage of Jewish peoples. For example, historical research has been conducted on the roles gay Jewish theater and film-makers played since the 1960s in exploring the intersections of Jewish + gay identities and on integrating LGBTQ communities into a wider Jewish historical narrative (Friedman 2007). Literary studies have contributed insights on how 20th century Jewish American literature and theatre was inhabited by queer sensibilities (though often in stealth-mode, “passing” as heterosexual, implicit or denied), which may have prepared the ground for the wider acceptance of queerness in contemporary Jewish American culture (Hoffman 2009). The seminar will also interrogate how, in this fast-evolving context, Heritage professionals in Europe have been especially inert, with rare and small-scale efforts to thematize the intersection of Jewish and Queer cultures, e.g. the Jewish Museum in Berlin with a critical self-evaluation of the lack of queer perspectives in its own collections (Waßmer 2018), some elements in its exhibitions (e.g. 2013: “Are there Gay Jews?” within the exhibition “The Whole Truth”), and through online media (https://www.jmberlin.de/en/topic-lgbtqi); and in the UK the oral history project “Rainbow Jews” in the 2010s, initiated by the organization “Liberal Judaism”, focusing on the lives of LGBTQ people in the UK since the 1950s. The seminar contents will be enriched by ‘direct’ insights coming from the lecturer’s own ongoing DFG-funded research project on “queering Jewish Cultural Heritage in Europe”.