Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yiddish Summer Weimar Symposium

I've been invited to speak again at a symposium in July at the Yiddish Summer Weimar, an ambitious workshop/festival on Yiddish music and culture that takes place for about a month in Weimar, the Germany city more associated with Goethe, Schiller and a failed "Republic" than with East European Jewish traditions....

This year's Symposium July 12-14, and the Yiddish Summer as a whole, are dedicated to a project called "The Other Europeans" -- an intercultural dialogue exploring Yiddish and Roma music, culture and identity.

I'll be speaking about popular images of Jews and Yiddish culture in Europe, including stereotypes, cliches and kitsch. I'll discuss their inherent ambiguities in a world that straddles the Jewish and non-Jewish community and where stereotypes and shorthand often take the place of nuanced definitions.

As I noted in my last post, from LA -- boundaries between insider and outsider, believer and non-believer, devotee and ironic observer can sharply delineate the differences between kitsch and caricature, art and artifice, stereotype and homage. Perspectives shift, and the boundaries often blur; the images and their meaning are often decidedly in the eye of the beholder, and they are frequently dictated by changing religious realities, philo-Semitic, often engineered nostalgia, and the powerful exigencies of the marketplace.

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