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A People between Languages

Toward a Jewish History of Concepts

Guy Miron

The field of modern European Jewish history, as I hope to show, can be of great interest to those who deal with conceptual history in other contexts, just as much as the conceptual historical project may enrich the study of Jewish history. This article illuminates the transformation of the Jewish languages in Eastern Europe-Hebrew and Yiddish-from their complex place in traditional Jewish society to the modern and secular Jewish experience. It presents a few concrete examples for this process during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The article then deals with the adaptation of Central and Western European languages within the internal Jewish discourse in these parts of Europe and presents examples from Germany, France, and Hungary.

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Matthew Zarnowiecki

Shakespeare’s sonnets have been subject to myriad creative and critical responses from the first instances of their partial publication in 1599 (two sonnets in The Passionate Pilgrime), in 1609 (the first edition of Shakespeares Sonnets, which included A Lover’s Complaint), and in 1640 (the first edition of John Benson’s Poems. VVritten By Wil. Shakespeare. Gent.). Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, editors and commentators felt comfortable manipulating the order of sonnets as printed in the 1609 quarto, often in order to arrive at a presumed authorial intention, or to demonstrate more clearly the ways in which the sonnets tell the story of Shakespeare’s life and times. The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have seen a different, but related phenomenon: a set of creative reimaginings, adaptations, and appropriations that attempt not only to bring Shakespeare’s sonnets into new contexts, but also to respond to the sonnets while still remaining in their purview. This article explores these responses, especially instances in which poets, directors, dramatists, and film-makers seem to want to create something of their own but still remain faithful to Shakespeare in one way or another. My own interest is in exploring that dual desire, and it seems only fair, after exploring several versions of it, to offer one of my own.

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Religion and Environment

Exploring Spiritual Ecology

Leslie E. Sponsel

Many scholars have touched on the relationships between religion and nature since the work of late nineteenth-century anthropologists such as Edward B. Tylor. This is almost inevitable in studying some religions, especially indigenous ones. Nevertheless, only since the 1950s has anthropological research gradually been developing that is intentionally focused on the influence of religion on human ecology and adaptation, part of a recent multidisciplinary field that some call spiritual ecology (Merchant 2005; Sponsel 2001, 2005a, 2007a, 2007b, 2007c; S. Taylor 2006). At last this ecological approach is beginning to receive some attention in textbooks on the anthropology of religion, ecological anthropology, human ecology, and environmental conservation, though it is still uncommon in the anthropological periodicals (Bowie 2006; Marten 2001; Merchant 2005; Russell and Harshbarger 2003; Townsend 2009). This article summarizes a sample of the growing literature and cites other sources to help facilitate the eff orts of those who may find this new subject to be of sufficient interest for further inquiry.

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Attaining a Better Society

Critical reflections on what it means to be 'developed'

Sally Matthews

It is clear from these and other definitions that development, no matter how it is conceived, involves change. However, it is also clear that not all change constitutes development. A particular change could be part of a process of development, but could also be part of several other processes, such as those of alteration, modification, deformation, adaptation, regression, degradation and the like. Thus it is necessary to differentiate between changes that can be said to be part of a process of development, and those that cannot. In an attempt to make such a distinction and in line with the above-mentioned definitions of development one could say that changes that are part of development are changes that bring about increased likeness to some more advanced or better state of being. A six-year-old child who, after years of talking, becomes mute is regressing rather than developing; and a child whose behaviour changes such that she begins to act like a dog would be considered to be in some kind of disordered state. However, when a child’s behaviour undergoes changes that lead to increased similarity to some conception of adult behaviour, then that child can be said to be developing. When assessing whether changes in a child’s behaviour constitute development, or some other kind of process, one has to have in mind some conception of what the child ought to be becoming.

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Throwing the Genes

A Renewed Biological Imaginary of 'Race', Place and Identification

Zimitri Erasmus

In the United States of America, use of DNA samples in criminal investigation and of genetic ancestry tests in 'personalised medicine', 'pharmacogenetics' and for personal consumption has grown exponentially. Moreover, use of such technologies is visible in the public sphere. In South Africa, DNA sampling for ancestry testing is the most publicly visible application of these technologies. This work has shifted constructions of 'KhoiSan' communities from yesterday's 'missing evolutionary link' to today's 'Edenic origin of humankind'. I question human biogenetics as a home for meanings of history, humanity and belonging. To this end, I read selected genetic genealogical studies of communities considered 'KhoiSan', 'Coloured' and 'Lemba' in South Africa against concerns raised in recent literature about the use of such studies in the United States of America. I ask why bio-centric conceptions of 'race', identity and 'the human' remain so resilient. To grapple with this question, I draw on Sylvia Wynter's (2001; 2003) adaptation of Frantz Fanon's (1986) concept of 'sociogeny' into 'the sociogenic principle'. I close by suggesting the code for what it means to be human is best located in the 'word' rather than the human genome.

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The 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP21), December 2015, reached a consensus to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, including by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (UN 2015: 22). The agreement has to pave the way for rules, modalities, and procedures and all Parties have to “recognize the importance of integrated, holistic and balanced non-market approaches being available to Parties to assist in the implementation of their nationally determined contribution, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a coordinated and effective manner, including through, inter alia, mitigation adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building, as appropriate” (UN 2015: 24). Of interest to note is that sustainable development and poverty eradication seem to be presented as two sides of the same coin.

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Naomi Chazan, Morad Elsana, Ian S. Lustick, Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Gideon Rahat, Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Daphne Inbar and Oren Barak

Arye Oded, Africa and Israel: A Unique Case in Israeli Foreign Relations (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2018), 416 pp. Hardback, $74.95.

Alexandre Kedar, Ahmad Amara, and Oren Yiftachel, Emptied Lands: A Legal Geography of Bedouin Rights in the Negev (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018), 424 pp. Hardback, $70.

Michal Kravel-Tovi, When the State Winks: The Performance of Conversion in Israel (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), 315 pp. Hardback, $61.97.

Maoz Rosenthal, Israel’s Governability Crisis: Quandaries, Unstructured Institutions, and Adaptation (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2017), 162 pp. Hardback, $68.

Brent E. Sasley and Harold M. Waller, Politics in Israel: Governing a Complex Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 368 pp. Paperback, $49.95.

Ran Abramitzky, The Mystery of the Kibbutz: Egalitarian Principles in a Capitalist World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018), 360 pages. Hardback, $29.95.

Edna Lomsky-Feder and Orna Sasson-Levy, Women Soldiers and Citizenship in Israel: Gendered Encounters with the State (London: Routledge, 2018), 186 pp. Hardback, $98.

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A New Sociobiology

Immunity, Alterity, and the Social Repertoire

A. David Napier

The relation between biological processes and social practices has given rise to a sociobiology heavily defined through experimental, cause-and-effect theorizing, applying biology to society, culture, and individual action. Human behaviour is largely understood as the outcome of biological processes, with individual autonomy and survival, and social order and stability, prioritized. Building on an argument first made about selfhood in 1986, and about immunology from 1992 onwards, this article argues that advances in science reframe our understanding of the boundaries between self and other ('non-self'), and thereby also our awareness of the importance of risk and danger, and the social contexts that encourage or discourage social risks. Because the assimilation of difference is not only crucial to survival, but critical for creation, the argument here for 'a new sociobiology' is for a less biologically determined sociobiology. Difference can destroy, but it is necessary for adaptation and creation. A new sociobiology, therefore, must prioritize organic relatedness over organic autonomy, attraction to 'other' over concern with 'self', if the field is to advance our understanding of creation, survival, and growth.

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Calling It Mammon

Instrumentalised Secularity and Religious Futures in Northern Ireland

Liam D. Murphy

Competitive funding by the European Union for community projects in Northern Ireland operates according to a political logic in which some groups and projects (deemed progressive, modern and generally secular) are prioritised, while others (discursively positioned as anachronistic, traditional and religious) are precluded. In this process, EU processes of statecraft seek to instrumentalise grassroots organisations as means to the many ends of a disenchanted, modern EU federation. In turn, overtly religious groups (among them churches, parachurches, and confraternities of various kinds) adapt to these conditions by instrumentalising EU processes and goals to the general end of securing a future place for religiosity in the 'new' Northern Ireland. This paper discusses the intersection of religious objectives and ideologies with that of European modernism in the context of two organisations: the Orange Order and the Divine Fellowship Congregation (DFC). Speci fically, I argue that both associations have developed distinctive forms of practice (the 'Orangefest' and 'Utopia' projects, respectively) that re-conceive what is possible for modern EU-funded initiatives. This adaptation has implications for both sets of institutions, in that each is transformed through articulation with the other.

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Tereza Novotna

Explanations for the roots and cures of the continuous divergence between East and West German political cultures tend to fall into two camps: socialization and situation. The former emphasizes the impact of socialization before and during the GDR era and ongoing (post-communist) legacies derived from Eastern Germans' previous experience, whereas the latter focuses primarily on economic difficulties after the unification that caused dissatisfaction among the population in the Eastern parts of Germany. The article argues that in order to explain the persistence and reinvigoration of an autonomous political culture during the last two decades in the new Länder, we need to synthesize the two approaches and to add a third aspect: the unification hypothesis. Although the communist period brought about a specific political culture in the GDR, the German unification process—based rather on transplantation than on adaptation—has caused it neither to diminish nor to wither away. On the contrary, the separate (post)-communist political culture was reaffirmed and reinstalled under novel circumstances.