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Talking up the Jews: Discourses of Tolerance, Multiculturalism & Jewishness in Amsterdam's Public Culture


for Members

Talking up the Jews: Discourses of Tolerance, Multiculturalism & Jewishness in Amsterdam's Public Culture

Monday, December 5, 2011

Presented By

Presented by the Anthropology Section of the New York Academy of Sciences.


Although Jews make up a minute proportion of Amsterdam’s population, they figure prominently in the city’s story about itself. Jews’ inclusion in the body politic, however, is tenuous; across a wide array of discursive settings, Jews are created as simultaneously insiders and outsiders. This double-edged positionality serves as a strategic resource available for Amsterdammers to pick up and use for multiple goals related to the construction of multiple divergent local identities for themselves, other residents, and the city at-large. While such a tenuous inclusion might seem to be indicative of a positionality in flux, I argue that the symbolic utility of Jews as both insiders and outsiders leads to a positionality that is actually quite stable. In this paper, I investigate how insider/outsider identities are created in such domains as discussions/examples of Yiddish borrowings in Amsterdam Dutch; discursive and material practices of Ajax soccer fans (the local soccer team); museum and tourism materials; media reports asserting that local Muslims (particularly those of Moroccan descent) are antisemitic; government efforts to ban ritual slaughter and the Dutch medical association’s official discouraging of circumcision.

A reception will precede the meeting at 6:00 pm.


Gabriella G. Modan

Ohio State University


Jillian Cavanaugh

Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

Registration Pricing

This meeting is free, but registration is required.

Travel & Lodging

Meeting Location

The Wenner-Gren Foundation

470 Park Avenue South, between 31st and 32nd Streets
8th Floor
New York, NY 10016