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Dalit Simchai

This article focuses on the concept of identity by juxtaposing New Age philosophy and nationalism in the Israeli context. Based on my qualitative research, I deconstruct the Israeli New Age discourse on ethno-national identity and expose two approaches within this discourse. The more common one is the belief held by most Israelis, according to which ethno-national identity is a fundamental component of one's self. A second and much less prevalent view resembles New Age ideology outside Israel and conceives of ethno-national identities as a false social concept that separate people rather than unite them. My findings highlight the limits of New Age ideology as an alternative to the hegemonic culture in Israel. The difficulty that Israeli New Agers find in divorcing hegemonic conceptualizations demonstrates the centrality and power of ethno-national identity in Israel.

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Performing Masculinity

Adolescent African American Boys' Response to Gender Scripting

Lionel C. Howard

This article focuses on the ways in which a select group of adolescent African American males respond to gender scripts. Drawing on interview and focus group data, the article describes four different responses to messages they receive from peers and significant adults about socio-culturally appropriate behaviors and characteristics of masculinity: 1) adapting or modifying their presentations of self, 2) internalizing ascribed gender scripts, 3) resisting, and 4) remaining conflicted about an appropriate response. Narratives highlight the complexity of gender identity development and active participation of African American boys in the construction of a masculine identity that feels most authentic, as well as the role of agents of socialization on identity.

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Textbook Revision and Beyond

New Challenges for Contemporary Textbook Activities

Basabi Khan Banerjee and Georg Stöber

Whereas “classical” textbook revision involved two or more nation-states, this article explores current challenges in this field which are internal or go beyond the level of nation-states: textbook activities after internal wars, the search for a “European textbook,” immigration, international schools, and examinations. All of these challenges touch upon the question of identities which are distinct from “traditional” national identities. The article sketches the respective backgrounds of these current challenges as well as practical aspects that need to be considered. We also question whether solutions can be found by replacing constricted identities with more comprehensive ones.

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Vincent Martigny

The 2007 Presidential election has been the occasion of a fierce debate between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolène Royal on the issue of national identity. The victory of Nicolas Sarkozy has led to the creation of a Ministry of National Identity and Immigration, linking in a controversial way the management of newcomers and their acceptance of allegedly historical national "values." This article examines the debate during the campaign. It provides an analysis of the reasons why the definition and defense of national identity was discussed in the course of the election, and outlines the viewpoints of the two candidates on this issue. Finally, it argues that the temptation to fix politically the content of national identity is an ancient one in France. What has been presented as part of Nicolas Sarkozy's "rupture" with the past in this domain is in fact the latest development of a form of "state nationalism" that has been prevailing in France in recent decades.

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Captured by Texts

Travel Tales of Captivity in Rabbinic Literature

Joshua Levinson

This article examines a travel narrative of sexual captivity in Rome from rabbinic literature of late antiquity. By comparing two textual versions, Palestinian and Babylonian, the article discusses not only the dynamics of cultural identity formation as negotiated in the “contact zone” of captivity, but also the tradition history of this tale as it migrated from late antique Palestine to the rabbinic circles in the Sasanian Empire. While the Palestinian version is a narrative about the reunification of space and identity disrupted by exile, the diasporic rabbinic community in Babylonia creates a fiction of identity despite place; de-territorializing the physical component of place in identity and replacing it with a textual self-fashioning.

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Margaret McCarthy

German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.

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After dispossession

Ethnographic approaches to neoliberalization

Oscar Salemink and Mattias Borg Rasmussen

Since the 1980s globalization has taken on increasingly neoliberalizing forms in the form of commoditization of objects, resources, or even human bodies, their reduction to financial values, and their enclosure or other forms of dispossession. “After dispossession” provides ethnographic accounts of the diverse ways to deal with dispossessions by attempts at repossessing values in connection to what has been lost in neoliberal assemblages of people and resources and thus how material loss might be compensated for in terms of subjective experiences of restoring value beyond the financial. The analytical challenge we pursue is one of bridging between a political economy concerned with the uneven distribution of wealth and resources, and the profound changes in identity politics and subject formation that are connected to these. We therefore argue that any dispossession may trigger acts of repossession of values beyond the financial realm, and consequently that suffering, too, entails forms of agency predicated on altered subjectivities. This move beyond the suffering subject reconnects the study of subjectivities with the analysis of alienation, disempowerment, and impoverishment through dispossession and attempts at recapturing value in altered circumstances.

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Francio Guadeloupe and Vincent A. de Rooij

This essay argues that the way in which black, brown, and white youngsters in the Netherlands are taking on a new anti-essentialist version of black identity fabricated by the culture industry offers a mode of post-racialism in multicultural Europe. This new version of black identity is based upon the liberating potential in Black Atlantic music forms. Yet questions remain as to whether this potential is only temporary and whether it still bears traces of older modes of racial and gender exclusivism.

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Creating a Significant Community

Religious Engagements in the Film Ha-Mashgihim (God’s Neighbors)

Merav Alush-Levron

Focusing on the 2012 Israeli film Ha-Mashgihim (God’s Neighbors), this article explores the construction of a Jewish and religious Mizrahi identity and analyzes the various ways in which the film presents a world of meaning that contests the secular liberal grammar. The analysis sheds light on the cultural motivation for introducing Judaism and Judaic identity into the cinematic narrative and demonstrates it through two themes: the formation of a peripheral religious Mizrahi territory and the journey toward redemption and meaning.

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Belfast St Patrick's Day Celebrations and the Act of Forgetting

Trying to Create Cross-community Identities

John Nagle

St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast city centre since 1998 have been imagined as providing a common symbol and space to imagine cross-community identities. Celebrations represent an attempt to constitute a social act of forgetting, to abandon a past where public commemorations perpetuated sectarian division. This article charts how the celebrations were contentious as competing groups claimed ownership over its performance. The contested status of the celebrations were largely the outgrowth of political legislation which, rather than facilitating cross-community alliances and identities, preserves the outright difference and absolute cultures enshrined in the notion of 'nationalist' and 'unionist' identities. Moreover, if the performance of memory has helped maintain discrete unionist and nationalist identities, and an abandoning of a past blighted by sectarian conflict is required to create a new, harmonious society, this legislation rendered the role of memory and forgetting ambiguous by stressing both as contributors to reconciliation.