№ 202/2016 from Jun 10, 2016
Daniel Boyarin will address a new way of looking at the Jewish diaspora and the concept of "diaspora" in general in a lecture at Freie Universität Berlin on June 22 at 6 p.m. A professor of culture of the Talmud at the University of California in Berkeley, Boyarin says that descriptions of the Jewish diaspora, not least by Jews themselves, are often incorrect. He postulates that a different conception of Jewish history and culture could contribute to a broader understanding of the Jewish diaspora and the theory of diaspora in general. His presentation will be held within the lecture series "Migration. Migration from Antiquity to the Present Day." It will be given in English.
Boyarin points out that the Jewish diaspora was long considered the ideal type of diaspora according to Weber. This approach has been questioned by theorists such as Stuart Hall, a cultural theorist and sociologist who is from the Caribbean, but teaches in the UK. Hall had argued that the Jewish diaspora is fundamentally different from other forms of diaspora in modern times. The Greek term diaspora originated in the 6th century for Jewish settlements in Babylon and Egypt. Since the 19th century, the Jewish diaspora has also referred to other religious or ethnic groups who live far away from their original homeland or as a minority.
In his book A Traveling Homeland, published in 2015, Boyarin rejected a concept of diaspora that referred only to the aspects of loss of home and the dispersal of a community around the world. Instead, he stressed that cultural identity increases through migration. In his book, which refers mainly to late antiquity and the Middle Ages, Boyarin regards the Talmud as a manifests of the Diaspora, as a text that characterizes the Jewish identity in the Diaspora, and thus becomes a "traveling home country."
Daniel Boyarin is the Hermann P. and Sophia Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2012/13 he was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin). His publications include Socrates and the Fat Rabbis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), and Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture (with Jonathan Boyarin: Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002).
Migration in historical perspective is the subject of a public lecture series being held at Freie Universität during the current spring/summer semester within the Open Lecture Halls program. The series was organized by the Excellence Cluster Topoi. Over the course of the semester, scholars address the current topic in a broad historical context extending from prehistory to late antiquity and from the Middle Ages to the present. The lectures are intended to critically scrutinize popular ideas about migration events such as so-called mass migration. The lectures take place every Wednesday from 6:15 to 8 p.m.