Food for Thought

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Oktober 2010



Russischsprachige Juden, die nach Deutschland oder Israel ausgewandert sind, leben in vielschichtigen sozialen Realitäten. Dazu gehört auch die Esskultur, die eine besondere Rolle für die Konstruktion von Identität spielen kann, wie Julia Bernstein zeigt. Ihre ethnografische Studie des Alltagslebens, von Lebensmitteln und Lebensmittelverpackungen bringt kulturelle, soziale und ökonomische Bedeutungen des früheren Lebens in der Sowjetunion und des gegenwärtigen Lebens in Israel und Deutschland zum Vorschein. Transnationale Bezüge, so stellt sich heraus, haben tragenden Anteil daran, die widersprüchlichen Lebenswirklichkeiten zu bewältigen.


Table of Contents
1 Migration collages: Studying Russian-speaking Jews in Israel and Germany15
1.1 Migration and socio-cultural affiliations15
1.2 The research approach17
1.3 Research questions20
1.4 Research methods22
1.5 Comparative view of the two populations33
1.6 General characteristics of the investigated groups34
1.7 Transporting Jewish identity from the SU39
1.8 Overview of the book41
2 Transnationalism and capitalism: Migrants from the former
Soviet Union and their experiences in Germany and Israel45
2.1 The Soviet kind of capitalism: Soviet spirituality vs. Western materialism50
2.2 Post-Soviet capitalism on food commodities56
2.3 "Arrival on a new planet"67
2.4 Reviving Soviet knowledge about the social reality of life in the capitalist system80
2.5 "The Russia we had always dreamed of"-some conclusions89
3 "Chocolates without history are meaningless": Pre- and post-migration consumption95
3.1 Soviet "hunting and gathering"98
3.2 The classic Soviet recipe rook: On the Tasty and Healthy Food Book107
3.3 Social skills of post-migration consumption114
3.4 Alternative ways of procurement and free consumption123
3.5 Contested procurement141
4 Russian food stores in Israel and Germany: Images of imaginary home, homeland, and identity consolidation142
4.1 Visibility of Russian food stores in Israel and Germany146
4.2 Image of the hostess in the Russian food stores150
4.3 Longing for the REAL home via food153
4.4 Commercial promotion of nostalgia164
4.5 Images of the Soviet paradise172
4.6 Image of Soviet proletarian food or the imaginary proletarian home178
4.7 Images of the Soviet empire and the Soviet political iconography of food post-emigration184
4.8 Nationalized Russia in food products and gastronomic Slavophilism of ex-citizens abroad200
4.9 Meanings of Russian food stores in Israel and Germany211
5 Russian food stores in Israel and Germany: Different national
symbolic participations and virtual transnational enclave219
5.1 Special national key symbols crossing borders and
manifestations of identity: The symbolic meaning of
pork and caviar in different national contexts222
5.2 Pork226
5.3 Caviar248
5.4 Mixed national identities in Russian food stores in Israel and Germany256
5.5 Reconsidering the immigrant enterprise: From traditional,
closed ethnic business toward a virtual transnational enclave268
6 Transjewish affiliation: The construction of ethnicity by
Russian-speaking Jews in Israel and Germany273
6.1 The "ethnicity" and ethnization processes of Russian-speaking Jews275
6.2 Component One: Innate ethnicity and visible Otherness and its fate abroad278
6.3 Component Two: Significant Others in the SU and abroad 293
6.4 Component Three: Suspect loyalty: Soviet Jewish Otherness through affiliation with Israel313
6.5 Component Four: Affiliation with Soviet Russian cultural elite315
6.6 Conclusion319
6.7 Triple Trans-Jewish affiliation321
7. Winners once a year? Making sense of WWII and the Holocaust as part of a transnational biographic experience328
7.1 Celebration of Den' Pobedy Victory Day329
7.2 Conflicting meanings of May 8th and 9th332
7.3 Soviet victors' narrative and the theme of the Holocaust in the SU335
7.4 Transnational praxis of the everyday knowledge after migration to Germany347
7.5 Proud of the Soviet victory, offended by the Soviet state or marginalized winners354
7.6 Challenging the victory narrative and burdensome identities357
7.7 The Outsider perspective362
7.8 Principally Others: Media discourse about the topic364
7.9 Shifting of the collective "we:" Media presentation of Germans and settled Jews as the symbolical "we" compared
to "Russians"366
7.10 "Without us Israel would not have come into existence. We won the war and put an end to the Holocaust..."368
7.11 Comparative conclusions of different modifications of the original narratives in Israel and Germany369
8 "Will you prepare gefillte fish for Christmas?" Paradoxes of living in simultaneously contested social worlds373
8.1 Reconsidering identities, reproducing stereotypes, coping with hierarchies374
8.2 Alienation, home, and homeland: "Why not Israel?" Self-positioning of Russian-speaking Jews in Germany and Israel389
8.3 Conclusion408
8.4 Contributions of this research410
8.5 Further development413


Julia Bernstein, Kulturanthropologin und Künstlerin, ist derzeit wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin und Dozentin an der Fachhochschule Frankfurt.


1 Migration collages: Studying Russian-speaking Jews in Israel and Germany

The study focuses on migrants who are involved, by necessity, in reconstructing their cultural perceptions as well as finding and confirming their place in a new reality. The comparative investigation presented here was conducted in two different contexts-Germany and Israel-among Jewish immigrants who came from the former Soviet Union (SU) after the initiation of Perestroika. The study's principal aim is to examine the multiple affiliations of immigrants that were shaped and modified in these two different cultural and social contexts. This analysis highlights and illuminates the cosmological perceptions and self-definitions of migrants transported from the SU along with their own meaningful experiences and interpretation of key concepts and symbols (Golden 2002; Stonequist 1935, 1937). Undertaken as a project in cultural anthropology, this study aspires to highlight the sites of conjunction and contradictions between, on the one hand, the ideas and perceptions that evolved while living in the SU; and, on the other hand, the expectations of receiving societies, normative thinking, and everyday knowledge of dominant host society.

1.1 Migration and socio-cultural affiliations

One of the basic, central premises of the study is that the perceptions as well as the physical conditions of the individual are dynamic and subject to change. Therefore, identities of individual and collective affiliations also undergo changes. As, for example, in the foods selected and prepared by immigrants on their dining table. Hence, we will find that these food products symbolize being-Russian, Jewish, Israeli, German, educated, European and/or that they signal transnational practices of belonging to a certain social stratum.
In investigating the migrant experience, I assume that people do not bear or transport with them a self-contained completed culture, but rather there is fluid n
ature to cultural affiliations as they select and employ cultural elements that are integrated through involvement in special situations, states, or conditions of their existence (Bloch 1963; Boyarin 1994; Gudeman and Rivera 1990; Kalekin-Fishman 2000; Welz 1996, 1997, 1998). Hence, I assume that culture is created through dynamic dialogues as well as permanent changes and modifications, rather than being limited to preserving of stable habits and practices. Therefore, based on these assumptions, this study sought to understand how different affiliations of migrants-be they cultural Russian, European, ex-Soviet, Jewish and different Others-are constructed, modified, co-exist, and presented/performed in particular situations in response to needs within specific situations. Bodnar (1985) referred to this process of identity redefinition as transplantation.
Accordingly, analyses advanced in this study do not perceive participants through insulated categories, such as Jewish, Soviet, Russian or German, but rather as "doing being Jewish" (Inowlocki 2000, 175) or doing being-ex-Soviet, Russian, Israeli, or German-through their dynamic practices and everyday interactions. The findings demonstrate that multiple identities co-exist and often contradict one another in various ways: Interviewees speak Russian and act according to Russian cultural practices, but are offended if referred to as Russians; or, they consume pork and simultaneously feel themselves to be Jews, accept support by the social welfare system but perform elitist cultural habitus, invest significant energies and time over three days to prepare meals for a birthday celebration, but claim that food "has actually no meaning for spiritual life." In addition, participants in both contexts articulated affiliation with different collective and "imaginary communities" (Anderson 1991), often expressed through linguistic forms of "we" and "they." These uses were created, changed in situ, presented, confirmed, and
performed in various manners. For example, self-referential terms nashi and svoi [lit. ours, ourselves, our own, Rus. approximated meaning as "people of our kind" or those who represent a unified "us"] were involved in a very dynamic and fluid process of doing being nashi that could be called nashi-zation. The meanings evolving in this process are presented throughout different chapters of this work.
Thus, the numerous examples of empirical evidence presented throughout this monograph demonstrate different uses and modified meanings of key cultural symbols in the Russian language.

EAN: 9783593392523
ISBN: 3593392526
Untertitel: Transnational Contested Identities and Food Practices of Russian-Speaking Jewish Migrants in Israel and Germany. zahlreiche Farbabb. Sprache: Englisch.
Verlag: Campus Verlag GmbH
Erscheinungsdatum: Oktober 2010
Seitenanzahl: 451 Seiten
Format: kartoniert
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