Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism

Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism

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Part ethnography, part history, and part memoir, this volume chronicles the complex past and dynamic present of an ancient Mizrahi community. While intimately tied to the Central Asian landscape, the Jews of Bukhara have also maintained deep connections to the wider Jewish world. As the community began to disperse after the fall of the Soviet Union, Alanna E. Cooper traveled to Uzbekistan to document Jewish life before it disappeared. Drawing on ethnographic research there as well as among immigrants to the US and Israel, Cooper tells an intimate and personal story about what it means to be Bukharan Jewish. Together with her historical research about a series of dramatic encounters between Bukharan Jews and Jews in other parts of the world, this lively narrative illuminates the tensions inherent in maintaining Judaism as a single global religion over the course of its long and varied diaspora history.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 158 x 232 x 26mm | 580.6g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 13 b&w illus.
  • 0253006430
  • 9780253006431

Review quote

Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism is an important contribution to Jewish Studies, shining a light on a neglected area of the Jewish world that deserves more attention. * Journal of Folklore Research * Much interest will be provoked by this book in the transformation of Bukharan Jewish self-identity and especially the varieties of their Jewishness. Within these wide categories, this beautifully presented and well-written monograph adds to our understanding of this community. * Slavic Review * [T]his is a readable, illuminating, and in many ways pathbreaking book. . . . Highly recommended. * Choice * By considering a community at the 'periphery' of the Jewish world, Cooper aims to reflect on the wider faith and culture.8/9/13 * Times Literary Supplement * Based on a wealth of different kinds of source materials and together with the challenging questions she raises, Cooper produces a broad and interesting picture of a lesser-studied and understood group of Jews, which despite a common name are becoming distinguished units based on location, the length of time they have been living there and outside influences. * AJL Reviews * This study of the Jewish communities of Central Asia-primarily the cities of Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarkand, and smaller surrounding settlements-is an impressive synthesis of ethnography and cultural history. It is the product of many years of patient interviews, participant observation, and archival research. * AJS Review * Bukharan Jews and the Dynamics of Global Judaism is written in an engaging style, not laden with jargon or with so much detail as to lose the inattentive reader. Cooper situates her work within Jewish studies, but she provides enough explanation of her key interests and questions that a reader who knows little about Judaism will still find the work very accessible. Likewise, non-anthropologists will find her explanations of method and theory to be useful and easily understood. * Nationalities Papers * Bukharan Jews and the dynamics of global Judaism makes an original and exciting contribution to the anthropology of Jewish communities and promises to become an important reference-point in social studies of Judaism. Alanna Cooper's engaging study of the Bukharan Jews (or the Jews of Central Asia) takes the reader on a journey throughout the centuries and discusses a wide range of issues in the history and anthropology both of this specific community and of Judaism in general. * Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute * It is a rare edited volume that keeps readers moving from chapter to chapter like a single-author book, but that is precisely what 'Ethnographies of the State in Central Asia' accomplishes. Including authors from a range of academic fields, it is positioned as a contribution to the interdisciplinary body of literature on ethnographically analysing `the state', and incorporates rich and engaging case studies from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Xinjiang. * Central Asian Survey * [This] book is an important work that offers readers a insightful perspective of a Jewish group as it is transformed and shaped. . . The book is well written, well argued, and very readable. It will definitely become a must read in curricula dealing not only with Jewish studies but nationalities, Diaspora, and minorities studies as well. * H-Judaic *show more

About Alanna E. Cooper

Alanna E. Cooper is an anthropologist and cultural historian who has held research and teaching positions at Boston University, University of Massachusetts, University of Michigan, and Harvard University's Center for the Study of World Religions. Her publications have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Review of Books, Anthropology of East Europe Review, Jewish Social Studies, and AJS Review.show more

Table of contents

Preface: Reining in Diaspora's MarginsAcknowledgmentsPart 1. Introduction1. First Encounter: Bukharan Jewish Immigrants in an Ashkenazi School in New York2. Writing Bukharan Jewish History: Memory, Authority, and PeoplehoodPart 2. Eighteenth-Century Conversations3. An Emissary from the Holy Land in Central Asia4. Revisiting the Story of the Emissary from the Holy LandPart 3. Nineteenth-Century Conversations5. Russian Colonialism and Central Asian Jewish Routes6. A Matter of Meat: Local and Global Religious Leaders in Conversation7. Building a Neighborhood and Constructing Bukharan Jewish IdentityPart 4. Twentieth-Century Conversations8. Local Jewish Forms9. International Jewish Organizations Encounter Local Jewish Community Life10. Varieties of Bukharan Jewishness11. Negotiating Authenticity and Identity: Bukharan Jews Encounter Each Other and the Self12. Jewish History as a ConversationNotesBibliographyIndexshow more

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