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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

PhD Round Table Session Seminar

9 January 2020
Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email The Parkes Institute at .

Event details

Part of The Parkes Institute's Research Seminar Series for 2019/20. All welcome.

Doctoral Research at the Parkes Institute

A round table discussion featuring current Parkes doctoral students, Anastasia Badder, Ben Giordano, Nicola Woodhead, and chaired by Dr Katalin Straner. Round table participants will each present their doctoral research, followed by discussion, providing a glimpse into the fascinating, interdisciplinary research conducted by Parkes Institute PhD students.

Event details

“But what does it mean?”: Emerging ideas about Hebrew and language in a Talmud Torah class in Luxembourg  (Anastasia Badder)

Abstract: My current project aims to explore Jewishness in Luxembourg, in particular the ways Jewish children learn what it is and how to be Jewish in Luxembourg.  During my nearly 21 months of fieldwork, my focal fieldsites – the synagogues and Chabad house of Luxembourg, school classrooms, and family homes – provided the key interactional spaces where I was able to observe and participate in the processes through which these children develop their social and cultural selves, learn how and what it is to be Jewish, and encounter and make sense of different ways of knowing, learning, and engaging with language.  Through this, I found that as the children discover that literacy can be something other than what they have learned in school, that language can be many things, that ways of knowing and sources of evidence can vary and shift and be questioned, that different spaces require different ways of being, performing, and bodily discipline, they learn, too, that each of these ties into and plays a role in the experience and management of difference.

Historically in anthropology and sociology, Jews and Jewishness have been “good to think with”.  Though much has changed since Levi-Strauss made this argument, the same remains true in many ways.  My research does three key things.  First, it reinforces the idea that language practices can only be understood in the context of other cultural practices and concepts.  Second, it illustrates the ways that elaborations of difference, both implicit and explicit, contribute to the (re)production of communities.  And third, a closer look at this community – a group that largely goes unmarked, sharing many key social factors with the majority (whiteness, class, the ‘right’ languages, private religiosity) but whose members continue to actively negotiate their belonging and Jewishness – reveals much about the conditions of inclusion and ‘success’ in Luxembourg.

Today, I would like to zoom in on language practices and emergent ideas about language amongst the children whose families affiliate with the Liberal community, in particular the children of the Liberal Talmud Torah school.  As the children progress through Talmud Torah in preparation for bar/bat mitzvah, they learn to read and recite Hebrew.  While many begin this process expecting to learn Hebrew much like they learn (and expecting Hebrew to be much like) other foreign languages in school, they quickly find that religious Hebrew and being literate in religious Hebrew are very different from those past experiences.  Religious Hebrew comes to be, simultaneously, something that makes them Jewish and connects them as Jews to a Jewish world and past; something the knowledge of which distinguishes them from non-Jews; something that allows for hypothesizing and guessing and seems to refute language standardization as they know it; something that is bodily and material, not limited to text and the sentence-level meaning.

The Ilford Palais as a Lieu de memoire?: Spatiality, Memory, and Pierre Nora (Ben Giordano)

Abstract: This paper uses digital methods (web scraping and social media analytics) to delineate how online memories of the Ilford Palais – a local London dancehall built in 1925 and dismantled in 2007 – centre around conceptions of space which share commonalities with Pierre Nora’s formulation of Lieux de Memoire. These commonalities challenge readings of Nora which view his work as a project of French nation building, revealing the applicability of local and personal concerns to the concept of Lieux de Memoire. Interpretations of Nora which view his project as one of nation building, and even comparing it to the nationalizing work of nineteenth-century historian Ernest Lavisse, do hold up to scrutiny – however it is through examining Dominique Poulot’s contributions to the multi-volume work specifically, that we can come to see how conceptions of space are fundamental to what constitutes a Lieux de Memoire, and this process of ‘spatial remembrance’ is analogous to contemporary online memories of a local London landmark – revealing Pierre Nora’s theory as not only applicable to macro concerns of French identity and nationhood, but also local and personal concerns such as community, childhood, friendship and romance.

Sources and Approaches: The Experiences and Life Narratives of Transmigrant Kinder (Nicola Woodhead)

Abstract: Since the fiftieth anniversary reunion in 1989, the Kindertransport has become increasingly well-known in the UK and abroad. This refugee scheme brought 10,000 children from a Jewish background to Britain in the nine months prior to the Second World War. Their admittance was meant to be temporary until they could re-emigrate or return home. This paper will focus on the approaches I have taken during the course of my research. I will briefly consider how the Kindertransport and Kinder have been represented, before looking at how this has influenced how Kinder have recollected their experiences, with particular refence to those who did not settle permanently in the UK.

Speaker information

Anastasia Badder is a doctoral student at the University of Luxemburg.  Her background is in anthropology, with a focus on the anthropology of religion.  Her previous projects include an exploration of media and mediation practices amongst Evangelical groups in Papua New Guinea and an investigation of Jewishness, whiteness, (in)visibility in New Zealand.

Ben Giordano completed his undergraduate degree at UCL - focusing on Scottish Medieval History - before moving to Prague and working at a British higher education college while learning about Czech and Polish culture. He now is a member of the Department of History and Web Science Institute at Southampton, working toward a doctorate in Online Memory Communities.

Nicola Woodhead is a second year PhD student at the University of Southampton. Her PhD research considers the transmigrant journeys of Kinder, seeking to map them and investigate the specific experiences of transmigrant Kinder.

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