Reconstructing Rituals: Using Bricolage to (Re)Negotiate Faith Based Rituals with the Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Queer and Intersex Community

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Elisabeth-Jane MILNE, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, United Kingdom, African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Margaret GREENFIELDS, Bucks New University, United Kingdom
Shaan Rathgeber KNAN, Liberal Judaism, United Kingdom
Searle KOCHBERG, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
In Judaism, as with a number of other major religions, there are hetero-normative expectations present in cultural and religious life. These can create exclusion and a sense of detachment from ritual and practice (Schneer & Aviv, 2002; Alpert, 1997) whereby some Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Jewish people perceive themselves as ‘doubly other’ (Rose & Balka, 1989) and experience a sense of cultural loss, ritual exclusion and discrimination in key ritual settings. This problem is particularly acute for Trans-Jews who report that they can be confined to a ‘limbo’ situation, even in contexts where lesbian and gay co-religionists are accepted as full members of a congregation (see Dzmura, 2011).

In response to this, from 2014 to 2015 members of the UK Jewish LGBTQI community were involved in Ritual Reconstructed, an Arts and Humanities Research Council UK funded project. Ritual Reconstructedencouraged participants to use bricolage to (re)create faith rituals and merge their core Jewish and queer identities by using personally meaningful objects alongside film, art, storytelling and music. 

Using Mary’s (2005) definition of bricolage as a dialogue between ‘meaningful material that one borrows’ and ‘incarnated forms one inherits’ and Savastano’s (2007) argument that that LGBTQI people have been forced to create their own sacred or alternative myths to create a new way of bringing together queer and their spiritual identities, this paper explores the Jewish LGBTQI community as bricoleur and analyses how they have (re)created their own ritual identities through through film, photographs and material artefacts.

To find out more about the project visit www.ritualreconstructed.com