This month, Indiana University Press releases Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism by Sarah Imhoff (Indiana University). The publisher’s description follows:
How did American Jewish men experience manhood, and how did they present their masculinity to others? In this distinctive book, Sarah Imhoff shows that the project of shaping American Jewish manhood was not just one of assimilation or exclusion. Jewish manhood was neither a mirror of normative American manhood nor its negative, effeminate opposite. Imhoff demonstrates how early 20th-century Jews constructed a gentler, less aggressive manhood, drawn partly from the American pioneer spirit and immigration experience, but also from Hollywood and the YMCA, which required intense cultivation of a muscled male physique. She contends that these models helped Jews articulate the value of an acculturated American Judaism. Tapping into a rich historical literature to reveal how Jews looked at masculinity differently than Protestants or other religious groups, Imhoff illuminates the particular experience of American Jewish men.
In February, Princeton University Press released “Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish History” by Todd M. Endelman (University of Michigan). The publisher’s description follows:
Between the French Revolution and World War II, hundreds of thousands of Jews left the Jewish fold—by becoming Christians or, in liberal states, by intermarrying. Telling the stories of both famous and obscure individuals, Leaving the Jewish Fold explores the nature of this drift and defection from Judaism in Europe and America from the eighteenth century to today. Arguing that religious conviction was rarely a motive for Jews who became Christians, Todd Endelman shows that those who severed their Jewish ties were driven above all by pragmatic concerns—especially the desire to escape the stigma of Jewishness and its social, occupational, and emotional burdens.
Through a detailed and colorful narrative, Endelman considers the social settings, national contexts, and historical circumstances that encouraged Jews to abandon Judaism, and factors that worked to the opposite effect. Demonstrating that anti-Jewish prejudice weighed more heavily on the Jews of Germany and Austria than those living in France and other liberal states as early as the first half of the nineteenth century, he reexamines how Germany’s political and social development deviated from other European states. Endelman also reveals that liberal societies such as Great Britain and the United States, which tolerated Jewish integration, promoted radical assimilation and the dissolution of Jewish ties as often as hostile, illiberal societies such as Germany and Poland.
Claire L. Adida (University of California, San Diego), David Laitin (Stanford University) and Marie-Anne Valfort (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne) have posted Muslims in France: Identifying a Discriminatory Equilibrium. The abstract follows.
Evidence about the assimilation patterns of Muslim immigrants in Western countries is inconclusive because current research fails to isolate the effect of religion from that of typical confounds, such as race, ethnicity or nationality. A unique identification strategy allows us to isolate the effect of religion. Survey data collected in France in 2009 indicate that Muslim immigrants assimilate less than do their Christian counterparts, and that this difference does not decrease with the time immigrants spend in France. Experimental games reveal that the persistence of Muslims’ lower assimilation is consistent with Muslims and rooted French being locked in a bad equilibrium whereby: (i) rooted French exhibit taste-based discrimination against those they are able to identify as Muslims; (ii) Muslims trust rooted French and French institutions less than do Christians.
This month, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Professor of, among other subjects, history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University, publishes Becoming American? The Forging of Arab and Muslim Identity in Pluralist America (Baylor). While Muslims face many unfortunate difficulties arriving in this nation—ugliness post 9/11 which I could elaborate on for hours—their arrival, in essence, forces those already here to examine who they are, to question what America—and being an American—means. The publisher’s description is below.
Countless generations of Arabs and Muslims have called the United States “home.” Yet while diversity and pluralism continue to define contemporary America, many Muslims are viewed by their neighbors as painful reminders of conflict and violence. In this concise volume, renowned historian Yvonne Haddad argues that American Muslim identity is as uniquely American it is for as any other race, nationality, or religion.
Becoming American? first traces the history of Arab and Muslim immigration into Western society during the 19th and 20th centuries, revealing a two-fold disconnect between the cultures—America’s unwillingness to accept these new communities at home and the activities of radical Islam abroad. Urging America to reconsider its tenets of religious pluralism, Haddad reveals that the public square has more than enough room to accommodate those values and ideals inherent in the moderate Islam flourishing throughout the country. In all, in remarkable, succinct fashion, Haddad prods readers to ask what it means to be truly American and paves the way forward for not only increased understanding but for forming a Muslim message that is capable of uplifting American society.
—DRS, CLR Fellow