‘Encountering Others, Encountering Ourselves’: Reflexivity and the Jewish Studies Researcher
Centre for Jewish Studies Sherman Conversation
Monday 4 September 2023
Graduate Centre, University of Manchester
Deadline for applications is Thursday 30 March.
Participants will be notified of their acceptance by the end of April.
For questions, contact Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Katja Stuerzenhofecker, email@example.com
This workshop seeks to explore collaboratively and reflexively our positions as Jewish Studies researchers in relation to the Jewish subjects we study. Some researchers identify as Jewish themselves but are outsiders to the Jewish community they study. Others do not identify as Jewish but are insiders in other respects that are significant to their research, e.g. gender, sexuality, disability or nationality. The wide range of possible insider-outsider constellations poses challenges and opportunities that shape the research process and the researcher’s personal and professional development. This workshop aims to facilitate exchange between scholars across the spectrum of insider-outsider positions in Jewish Studies. We will explore the ethics, tensions and practicalities arising from our insider-outsider positions, broadly defined as a continuum on which we find ourselves, sometimes in several positions concurrently.
Some of the questions we hope to explore:
- What are the essential ways in which ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ research might differ?
- Who is an ‘insider’ and what ethical complications does this status entail?
- Is the ‘boundary’ between ‘outsiders’ and the Jewish subjects they are studying porous? If so, under what conditions and with what implications can it be crossed?
- What is our ethical duty as researchers to communities of which we are ‘insiders’? Do they differ from the duties of those researchers who are ‘outsiders’?
- What personal safety issues arise for us when we research our own communities? Can we ever not be researching?
- Who is our work for, and how do we navigate our multiple audiences?
- How do we reconcile interventionist, activist, and scholarly concerns of our research?
- What are the implications of publishing research on communities in which we are ‘insiders’?
- How can we share research with participants and communities while recognizing distinct interests and perspectives on data?
- What funding concerns might we need to be aware of? What impacts on academic freedom might be generated by funding that comes from ‘inside’ the community?
We invite applications from researchers at all career stages working in Jewish Studies, broadly defined as scholarly engagement with Jewish subjects, past and present. In four sessions, spread over a single day, we will examine the themes that emerge from participants’ case studies of their positionality as a researchers. We will discuss strategies for constructive engagement with the strengths, limitations and potential of our positions in a mutually supportive and confidential environment. The day’s conversations will be facilitated as action learning sets, a peer learning process well established in professional development and higher education which enable participants to reach a deeper understanding of their positionality and how to negotiate it. The process employs Socratic questioning by the group in response to participants’ description of their own research experiences The aim of action learning sets is for participants to work towards their personal action plan. The process will be introduced in full on the day. For further information on action learning sets, see McGill and Beaty (2001). Action learning: a guide for professional, management & educational development. Rev. 2nd ed. London: Kogan Page.
We hope to explore the potential to form a researcher network after the event.
Attendance and refreshments throughout the event are free. We are able to offer a small number of bursaries for travel and accommodation for selected participants with particular financial needs. Details of how to apply for a bursary will be made available with notification of acceptance.
Places are limited and the organizers will select participants to ensure a varied range of career stages and insider-outsider positionalities. Your application should include:
- a detailed cover letter describing your current position, academic background, current research projects, what you plan to present at the workshop, and how you would benefit from participating
- your CV and list of publications
- a 500–800 word abstract outlining your area of research, the case study of your practice that you want to explore, and the way your position as an insider-outsider affects your research.
All documents should be sent as a single PDF and submitted by email. We will only consider complete applications. We will inform you regarding the results of your application by the end of April.
To apply, please email all required documents in a single PDF by Thursday 30 March to Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Katja Stuerzenhofecker email@example.com