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Modernity and Jewish Experience: On Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology of the Jewish Question

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Event Information

12th February, 2019
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Birkbeck, University of London
Ben Gidley, Birkbeck University of London

The Jewish experience and the ‘Jewish question’ have been central to Western modernity and thus to social science’s accounts of modern social life. This paper discusses one of the most profound sociologists of modernity, the late Zygmunt Bauman, for whom the Jewish question played a key but not always explicit role. It draws out Bauman’s contribution to understanding these questions, but also some of his work’s limitations. Drawing on fragmentary suggestions in some of Bauman’s late 1980s articles and on a richer account of the cultural stuff of Jewish life, the paper points to the importance of what I am tentatively calling ‘ghetto radicalism’ in illuminating the Jewish question and Western modernity. 

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