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Negotiating Jewishness : identity and citizenship in the Leeds Jewish community

By Irina Kudenko


In the last few years, multicultural citizenship, once hailed as a solution to national cohesion, has faced increasing political and academic accusations of inciting\ud segregation and group divisions. This has prompted a re-evaluation of different institutional and discursive arrangements of national citizenship and their impact on\ud the integration of minority ethnic groups. This research into the history of Jewish integration into British society analyses the relationship between changing forms of\ud British citizenship and the evolution of British Jewish identities. In so doing, it enhances our understanding of how citizenship policies affect minority selfrepresentation\ud and alter trajectories of integration into mainstream society.\ud \ud The research draws on an historical and sociological analysis of the Jewish community in Leeds to reveal how the assimilationist and ethnically defined citizenship of Imperial Britain conditioned the successful Jewish integration into a particular formula of Jewish identity, `private Jewishness and public Englishness', which, in the second part of the 20th century, was challenged by multicultural citizenship. The policies of multiculturalism, aimed at the political recognition and\ud even encouragement of ethnic, racial and religious diversity, prompted debates about private-public expressions of ethnic/religious and other minority identities, legitimating alternative visions of Jewish identity and supporting calls for the democratisation of community institutions. The thesis argues that the national policies of multiculturalism were crucial in validating multiple `readings' of national and minority identity that characterise the present day Leeds Jewish community.\ud \ud Employing a multi-method approach, the study demonstrates how the social and geographical contexts of social actors, in particular their positions within the minority\ud group and the mainstream population, enable multiple `readings' of sameness and differences. In particular, the research explores how a wealth of interpretations of\ud personal and collective Jewish identities manifests itself through a selective and contextualised usage of different narratives of citizenship

Publisher: School of Geography (Leeds)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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