A Community in Spite of Itself: Soviet Jewish Emigres in New York

A Community in Spite of Itself: Soviet Jewish Emigres in New York

by Fran Markowitz

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though somewhat dated, this survey is a readable mix of reportage and sociological analysis. Markowitz, an anthropologist at Israel's Ben-Gurion University, lived in Brighton Beach, the heart of the Russian emigre community in New York City, in the mid 1980s, aiming to track the individual and cultural changes among immigrants who had arrived in the previous four to 10 years. Markowitz argues that Russian Jews have formed a community here, despite the fact that they are geographically dispersed, do not occupy the same occupational niche and have not formed unifying organizations. Markowitz examines how the immigrants, for the most part members of an urban intelligentsia, were surprised to feel like aliens in their new home. Frequently using excerpts from interviews, she analyzes the role of money and easily available goods in weakening previously dominant bonds of friendship, and studies the immigrants' evolving sense of Jewish identity. Though their experiences in the Soviet Union make them wary of joining organizations, the immigrants, argues Markowitz, form a ``postmodern community'' through regular conversation with each other as they navigate the difficulties of their new lives. (Apr.)

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Smithsonian Institution Press
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Series in Ethnographic Inquiry

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