‘Being Jewish’, ‘Being German’ and Being in Love

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Ina SCHAUM, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Intersectionality enhances constant alertness and sensibility to (new) omissions and exclusions within modes of knowing in relation to embodied categories of difference (Lutz 2001; 2014). Next to being a tool for (narrative) analysis, intersectionality can be practiced as creative and critical methodology of feminist analysis and the production of accountable theory (Davis 2014). Within my research about ‘Jewish dating’, intersectionality as critical analytic perspective and methodology allowed me to complicate and deconstruct the assumption of essentialized and distinct realms of ‘Jewish’ and ‘non-Jewish’ experiences of love, and instead lay the focus on the constant shift of boundaries, of relations of proximity and distance and ongoing processes of what I term biographical conversion(s). I use the term ‘conversion’ to denote the constant boundary crossing between difference and commonality; not in a conventional sense of (religious) status change, but as a narrative and biographical process of positioning and negotiation of unequal distributions of mobility, visibility and vulnerability. Moreover, a biographical strategy of conversion may manifest as appropriation (the desire to be Jewish), as denial or suppression of guilt or as strategy to overcome the past of Nazi violence.

In my contribution to the session, I will delineate how my interview partners and I engaged in dialogic/performative interviews in which stories were co-produced in a “complex choreography in spaces between teller and listener, speaker and setting” (Kohler Riessman 2008: 105) and which I link to the dialogic analysis of interaction as Lutz and Davis (2005: 241-242) propose it. This embodied co-construction is linked to the topic of my biographical research: gendered relational life and intimacy – and the shifting gulf between ‘being Jewish’ and ‘being German’ as complex axis of difference, itself comprised of the intersection of religion, culture, ethnicity, ‘race’, and cultural/social memory related to the Shoah.