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Chaim I. Waxman

This article examines the unique character of conversion to Judaism in general and in Israel in particular. It is an act enmeshed with the very definition of Judaism and has implications for the future of Israel as a Jewish state as well as for Israel-Diaspora relations. The role of the Israeli government in conversion, from the very outset of the establishment of the State of Israel, is delineated and its history as a religio-political issue analyzed. Finally, the article discusses alternative approaches for dealing with what some perceive as a very serious Israeli religio-political issue.

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Gavin Rae

Sartre's phenomenological ontology discloses that understanding consciousness and its mode of being requires an analysis of its relation with other consciousnesses. The primordial manner in which the Other relates to consciousness is through the look. Sartre claims that consciousness tends to adopt a pre-reflective fundamental project that leads it to view the Other as a threat to its pure subjective freedom. This creates a conflictual social relation in which each consciousness tries to objectify the Other to maintain its subjective freedom. But Sartre also notes that consciousnesses can establish a social relation called the “we” in which each consciousness is a free subject. While certain commentators have noted that communication allows each consciousness to learn that the Other is not simply a threatening object but another subject, communication can only play this positive role if both consciousnesses have undergone a specific process called conversion. Only conversion brings consciousness to recognise, respect, and affirm the Other's practical freedom in the way necessary to create a we-relation. To support my argument, I spend significant time outlining what conversion and the social relations created post-conversion entail.

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Matthew Dimmock

Starting with the observation that there is a failure in an English language of “difference” associated with travel and trade in the late sixteenth century, this article explores the nature and consequences of that failure. Particular emphasis is placed on conversion—the evaluation and acceptance of an “alien” body into the Anglican community—and an analysis of John Foxe's A sermon preached at the christening of a certaine Iew (1578) and Meredith Hanmer's The Baptizing of a Turke (1586). Diplomatic and travel texts are considered to demonstrate the use of an earlier lexicon of heresy alongside contemporary ideas concerning the equivalence of Roman Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam. In the last decade or so many scholars have identified problems with the critical language in which these issues are discussed, in particular the notion of early modern England and its “others”. In evaluating the failure of a language of “difference,” this article suggests an alternative critical vocabulary.

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From Forced Conversion to Marranism

Crypto-Jews in Morocco and Their Fate

Paul B. Fenton

of Jewish descent. Instances of individual or even mass conversion of Jews to Islam, mostly under duress, were widespread in Morocco on account of its recurrent political upheavals and the precariousness of its indigenous Jews, who were the only non

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Maciej ‘Mati’ Kirschenbaum

many Progressive Jews, are unwilling to declare their belief in the God of Israel, or even identify as agnostic, as they do not believe in the existence of God at all. 3 Such unwillingness, if expressed openly, might preclude them from conversion, as

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Tatiana Vagramenko

missionary activities and frequent cases of conversion to Protestant Christianity among nomadic and sedentary native people. The Nenets people have been popularly viewed as strongholds of “native traditional culture” who were reluctant to convert to

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Simon Rolston

This article explores how the rehabilitative discourse of the American prison system shapes the writings of American prisoners. The article begins by tracing how the conversion narrative underpins prison reformers' theories of prison rehabilitation. Then, the article considers how American prisoners like Caryl Chessman, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Malcolm X, George Jackson, and Jack Henry Abbott use the conversion narrative and theories of rehabilitation in their life writings. The article argues that prisoners' life writings do not, as is often presumed, 'write back to power' so much as invoke competing discourses that contest but also reinforce the ideology of the American prison system.

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Mathijs Pelkmans

The renewed relevance of religion in post-Soviet public spheres has been accompanied by conspicuous and controversial conversion processes. This article compares cases of conversion on the Muslim-Christian frontier in Kyrgyzstan and in Georgia. It argues that the notions of boundary and frontier are essential to construct a more dynamic model for understanding 'spiritual' movement in social contexts that are rapidly changing. This approach in turn sheds light on the roles and the nature of social and cultural boundaries in the contemporary world.

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Nguyen Van Suu

Đô'i Mó'i, the name given to the economic reforms initiated in 1986 in Vietnam, has renewed the party-state's ambitious scheme of industrialization and has intensified the process of urbanization in Vietnam. A large area of land has been converted for these purposes, with various effects on both the state and society. This article sheds light on how land conversion has resulted in farmers' resistance and in what way and to what extent it has transformed their livelihoods in the transitional context of contemporary Vietnam. The article argues that agricultural land use rights remain an important asset for Vietnamese farmers, containing great value and meaning for them besides forming a means of prod

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Crisis, Conversion, and Conflict

Evangelical Christianity, Rapid Change, and the Eastern Khanty

Andrew Wiget and Olga Balalaeva

This article discusses preliminary findings from our research into the activity of evangelical missionaries among the Khanty of Surgut region, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug. Our aim is to begin to define the nature and the scale of recent developments in the religious life among the eastern Khanty; to understand why evangelical missionary activity among the Khanty has met with some success; to discover how the conflicts it precipitates make visible the hidden, implicit divisions in communities; and to lay out lines of further inquiry that may help integrate the work of those ethnographers exploring similar phenomena in Siberian communities. This article argues that rapid change, brought about by intensive petroleum development coupled with the collapse of Soviet structures, provided openings for these new ideologies by altering objective conditions of Khanty life.