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Jewish Life in Twenty-First-Century Turkey: The Other Side of Tolerance (New Anthropologies of Europe) Paperback – December 6, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Makes important contributions to the fields of Turkish studies, Jewish studies, and ethnographic writing.... Very sophisticated,... well written, and accessible." —Esra Özyürek, author of Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism
and Everyday Politics in Turkey

"[A] marvelously provocative book... Highly recommended." —Choice

"Brink-Danan... ventures beyond the bland and the predictable and produces a thought-provoking book about an intriguing Jewish community in a fascinating Muslim country." —The Canadian Jewish News

"Marcy Brink-Danan’s study offers a rare and insightful view of the multilayered dynamics between and profiles of individuals peopling Istanbul’s Jewish community. Jewish Life in 21st-Century Turkey is at once an important ethnographic investigation and a sociolinguistic analysis. As such, it stands apart from other studies of Turkey’s contemporary Jews." —Slavic Review

"Succeeds in applying anthropology to an urbanized and diverse community while deftly unraveling the dilemmas faced by Jews in Istanbul as they balance cosmopolitanism with maintaining a sense of who they are." —Harvey E. Goldberg, Hebrew University

"[A]n outstanding study.... [I]t solves the riddles of Turkish Jewish culture by offering a critical contribution to the discussion of cosmopolitanism." —Comparative Studies in Society and History

"Brink-Danan’s volume offers a complex and thought-provoking portrait of Jewish life in twenty-first-century Turkey through the compelling lens of linguistic anthropology. It not only elucidates multiple facets of a Jewish community generally overlooked by scholars, but also encourages us to rethink the nature of 'cosmopolitanism,' 'tolerance,' and minority politics more broadly through the example of Turkey." —H-Judaic H-Net

This marvelously provocative book, based on more than two years of ethnographic and documentary research in Istanbul, is far more compelling and revealing than its rather ordinary title may suggest. Using performance theory and frame analysis, Brink-Danan (anthropology and Judaic studies, Brown) offers a subversive yet intersubjective
understanding of how Turkish Jews must pay a significant price to attain tolerance. Despite (or because of?) Sephardic presence in Turkey for more than 500 years, Jews must suffer the cultural expense of being or passing as secularists and linguistic non-Jews, and must pay the political costs of being quiescent in public settings and obsessed
with secrecy and security, even in their private lives. Brink-Danan scrutinizes 'the real tensions between juridical and popular notions of cosmopolitan rights' for Jews and implicitly other minorities in Turkey, in contrast to the Turkish Republic's rhetorical use of ethnic and religious tolerance as proof of democracy and 'civilization.' She analyzes the
complexities and contradictions in being sufficiently and simultaneously both Turkish and Jewish. Through ongoing processes of meaning making and social negotiation, Jews in Istanbul are dialectically involved 'in perpetuating an ideology of effaced difference' and a reproduction of their political and cultural exclusion, though certainly not under conditions of their own making. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.
-- ChoiceB. Tavakolian, emeritus, Denison University, May 2012

"The book provides much important information and analysis on important issues regarding
contemporary Turkish Jews, though some of the theoretical parts might be of more interest to anthropologists. The study is an important contribution to our knowledge of Jewish life in the 21st century Middle East in general and Turkey in particular, and is of relevance as well for those interested in minority and culture studies." —AJL Reviews

About the Author

Marcy Brink-Danan is Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brown University.

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