Call for Papers for special issue of the Jewish Journal of Sociology: The Relevance of the Jewish Question in the
Call for Papers
The Jewish Journal of Sociology
Special Issue: The Relevance of the Jewish Question in the 21st Century
Editors: Ilan Zvi Baron (Durham University) and Keith Kahn-Harris (Editor, Jewish Journal of Sociology)
In post-enlightenment Europe, both Jewish and non-Jewish political thought was preoccupied by what came to be called the Jewish Question. The Jewish Question asked what the appropriate status of Jews should be within the nation state and in particular whether or not Jewish ‘separateness’ could be maintained. There were a variety of answers given to this question, including: the creation of a nation state for the Jews, forms of autonomy within multi-ethnic states, radical assimilation, the relegation of Jewish difference to the private sphere, and the anti-Semitic removal of all Jewish difference from the body politic of the nation state.
By the middle of the 20th Century, the Question appeared to have been resolved. Two particular moments were key: the declaration of the State of Israel on May 14 1948 and its recognition by the United Nations; and the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10th of the same year of the University Declaration of Human Rights. The first moment created a Jewish nation state where Jews could achieve sovereignty as Jews. The second officially recognized the rights of minorities such as Jews within nation states. 1948 embedded both national and Diaspora-based answers to the Jewish Question within international law and the nation state system.
Today, in the 65th year of the State of Israel, the Zionist answer to the Jewish Question has demonstrated its success. Israel is now the country with the largest Jewish population in the world and has become a pillar in the construction of modern Jewish identity. The Diaspora-focused answer to the Jewish Question has also been successful in at least some countries, especially in North America and Western Europe, where Jews have become a prosperous minority without being threatened by officially-sanctioned anti-Semitism.
However, both of these answers have led to unforeseen complications. Being Jewish can mean different things to Israelis than to Diaspora Jews. Moreover, the security issues in the Jewish State remain intensely controversial. Nor have fears about anti-Semitism, assimilation and Jewish disappearance receded, particularly in the Diaspora.
It is worth asking therefore, how far the underlying assumptions that framed the Jewish Question remain valid. The debates that frame Diaspora/Israel relations are often predicated on an assumption that it is only within the nation state system that Jews can find a political space. Does the answer to the Jewish Question still lie within the nation state system? Have the Jewish Question's core spatial assumptions led to the creation of questions that cannot be answered on their own terms? Indeed, have the Jews always been politically a spatial people? What kinds of alternative political spaces exist and have existed for the Jews? Are there temporal themes that the spatially-focused Jewish Question has ignored? Indeed, is the Jewish Question even still relevant in the age of Israel? What unforeseen challenges have the assimilationist and Zionist answers created? How did a stateless people end up framing a question so tied to state-based political futures and what does the Question have to say about the Diaspora?
The Jewish Journal of Sociology invites papers to explore the relevancy and/or meaning(s) of the Jewish Question today, from a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Articles should be between 6-8000 words and will be subject to peer review.
The Special Issue will be published in the second half of 2014. Expressions of interest and completed articles should be sent to Ilan Zvi Baron (ilan.baron(at)durham.ac.uk) or Keith Kahn-Harris (kkahnharris(at)yahoo.co.uk)
For more information on the Jewish Journal of Sociology go to: http://www.jewishjournalofsociology.org/
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