Wandering dwellings: Diasporic architectures

Presented at: Diasporas: Exploring Critical Issues. 5th Global Conference 2012. Oxford UK.

Abstract: Historically, the Wandering Jew is perceived of as dehumanized and rendered eternally homeless through the Euro-Christian construction of the his self and his home as Other. Rather than a representation of the intrinsic existential condition of the Diaspora, the tragic homelessness experienced by the Wandering Jew is, I argue, a hegemonic construct of Euro-Christian ideology. According to what Daniel Boyarin calls “diasporic consciousness”, the Jewish people identify with a multiplicity of places simultaneously, carrying a sense of the familiar into the foreign. Continue reading “Wandering dwellings: Diasporic architectures”

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Return to a Foreign Home

Presented at: Homelands: Diasporas Return. Kultrans 2010, University of Oslo. Oslo, Norway.

Abstract: Historically, the Jewish People identified with a multiplicity of places simultaneously, carrying a sense of the familiar into the foreign, and navigating between seemingly contradictory states – interior/exterior, permanent/transient, mind/body, local/foreign. This is what Daniel Boyarin has called the Diasporic consciousness of the Jewish People. In this context home is understood as a mediator in a nuanced existence between the perceived and constructed dualities of life, and facilitator of transition – a journey rather than a rooted existence. Continue reading “Return to a Foreign Home”

Wandering Dwellings: the Diasporic Home

Presented at: A Celebration of Jewish Studies in Ottawa 2007. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa ON.

Abstract: Deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, the “Home” becomes the intersection of the transient self and the stationary architecture where the self is free to recollect in its interiority and simultaneously position itself in relationship with the exterior elements. Both the function and form of the architecture of “Home” are understood as a (1) mnemonic device to evoke recollection and (2) facilitator of physical relationship with the other through its openings and transitional spaces. The re-construction of a Jewish home is therefore intrinsically tied to a re-collection of the fragmented cultural and tectonic memories of house images carried by the Diaspora, specifically the importance attributed to the mezuzah, talit, tefilin, the sukkah and eruvim. The Wandering Jew suggests a framework for reinterpreting the relationship between the heimliche (literally the home, rootedness, hidden, or burried), the unheimliche.

Monsters in a Strange House

Presented at: Envisioning Home. CUNY Graduate Conference 2006. New York, NY.

Abstract: In Jewish mysticism, beth, the Hebrew word for home and second letter of the alphabet, represents the manifests of duality and beginning of plurality, ie. the first ‘other’. The first letter of the Torah, beth, further represents the dualistic nature of creation. The lack of differentiation, however, between ‘home’ and ‘house’ in Hebrew precludes the usual binary connotations of private/public, self/community, now/then, us/them; extending the sense of place beyond the constraints of space. Expanding upon Heidegger’s theories, Christian Norberg-Schulz proposes that man’s ability to identify with place, as it is poetically experienced, is his ability to identify with himself and to feel at home. Continue reading “Monsters in a Strange House”