This volume brings together essays that reflect on ontological and moral dilemmas regarding Jewish identity and race. The reflections offered here are cognisant of themselves as taking place in the context of post-Holocaust transformations and pay special attention to the double processes of the de-radicalization of Jews qua Jews and the recasting of Jews both in re-radicalized and in other terms. As a result the essays bring together and create a few intersections between Jewish studies and critical theories of race and help stretch the limits of as well as fill in some of the gaps in each. While each essay in the volume is unique, they do have four distinct foci. Thus, one group explores personal identity and mixes autobiographical and theoretical lines of inquiry that emphasize the extent to which Jewish identity, while a function of group membership is inhabited and actively lived by each person, hence, also self-fashioned.
A second group examines the racial classifications of (different groups of) Jews, grappling with the history and the politics of these classifications as they take place in contexts that are to a greater or lesser degree affected by the dominance of a black/white paradigm of race. A third group describes and analyzes the dynamic relationship between Jews and the cultural worlds in which they find themselves, which is articulated and reverberates through variegated networks and associations and engages people creatively - even if in their own assimilation, which is rarely not at the same time also entangled resistance. Finally the fourth group deploys Jewish texts specifically in order to develop theoretical analyses and generalizations that result from their application, doing so in a way that throws a different light on the familiar. The essays in this volume are both provocative and preserving of the tension between the contributions that can be made to critical theories of race and Jewish studies. Were they so smooth over difficult and troubling questions they would be unable to respect the potential complexity of a creative meeting of these rich and lively areas of thought.
Lisa Tessman is assistant professor of philosophy and women's studies at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York. Bat-Ami Bar On is associate professor of philosophy at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York.