The Deviant Yeshiva (1 More Session in Amsterdam)
The Deviant Yeshiva explores philosophical texts related to Jewishness in this learning opportunity from Oy Vey. The conversations are led by philosopher Yoni Busquila, a lecturer at Leiden University. These conversations aren’t just for Jews! Join the Deviant Yeshiva for lively conversations guaranteed to light up your brain.
Conversations in Amsterdam are Tuesday evenings from 19.30-21.00 on 24 Oct, 21 Nov, 19 Dec.
About the Deviant Yeshiva
Jewish identity is a contested concept. Most of the categories used to describe the idea of Jewishness feel imprecise or at least unable to engulf the complexities that permeate the feeling of what it means to be Jewish. The course will look at three possible avenues for understanding this strangeness. It will use the works of three of the main authors in Jewish thinking in recent times to try to articulate the ‘otherness’ that being Jewish involves. From the reflection on this challenge, we will also try to explore the possibility of reclaiming Jewish identity in its own terms. That is, from the understanding that the conceptual framework we currently hold is unsatisfactory, we will also explore the possibility of creating a new framework for approaching Jewish identity. This will be done via several topics such as reflecting on the idea of Judaism as a religion (Boyarin), the relationship between Jews and mainstream socio-political spheres (Bielik-Robson), and the way historical dynamics crystallize into Jewish identity (Memmi). Those questions will be purposely constructed ‘against the grain’ and will hopefully challenge the ways Jewishness is framed both from the outside (the way people talk about it) but perhaps more importantly, also from the inside (the way Jews reflect on their own identity).
Session 1: Bielik-Robson, A. (2020). Other, not Hostile: On Allosemitism, Identitarianism, Marranism and the Two Visions of Jewish Diaspora
(Jewish studies quarterly, 27(2), 178-198)
The first session is dedicated to Bielik-Robson’s text on Jewish identity in Modern Europe. She uses recent events in Poland to comment on interesting developments of the political meaning of being Jewish. Her argument is that one must pay close attention to those events as they point to important tensions.
Session 2: Memmi, Albert (1966). The liberation of the Jew
(New York, NY: The Orion Press)
Memmi is one of the central figures in post-colonial theory. In this book he applies his conceptual framework to diasporic Jewishness in an attempt to construct how that identity could be seen as a product of colonialism. He points to the need to rethink Jewish identity from this perspective.
Session 3: Boyarin, Daniel (2018). Judaism: The genealogy of a modern notion
(New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press)
Boyarin investigated the meaning of the term Judaism via a reconstruction of the possible meanings of the term Yahadut. His conclusion is that Judaism as a religion is a modern development and more importantly a category that does not fully accommodate the contents it is supposed to engulf. Therefore, Jewishness requires an alternative language.
About the Discussion Leader
Yoni Busquila is a lecturer at Leiden University teaching courses on Decolonial Theory and Critical Political Theory. His current field of research is philosophy, more specifically, exploring contemporary political ontology in the continental tradition. He is also interested in the connections between jewish philosophy, decolonial theory and aesthetics. His main interests are possible articulations of the idea of barbarism.