Jewish Life in Twenty-First-Century Turkey

Jewish Life in Twenty-First-Century Turkey

The Other Side of Tolerance
Marcy Brink-Danan
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/06/2011
Format: Hardback 10 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35690-1
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Turkey is famed for a history of tolerance toward minorities, and there is a growing nostalgia for the "Ottoman mosaic." In this richly detailed study, Marcy Brink-Danan examines what it means for Jews to live as a tolerated minority in contemporary Istanbul. Often portrayed as the "good minority," Jews in Turkey celebrate their long history in the region, yet they are subject to discrimination and their institutions are regularly threatened and periodically attacked. Brink-Danan explores the contradictions and gaps in the popular ideology of Turkey as a land of tolerance, describing how Turkish Jews manage the tensions between cosmopolitanism and patriotism, difference as Jews and sameness as Turkish citizens, tolerance and violence.

Author Bio

Marcy Brink-Danan is Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brown University.


“This richly detailed study examines what it means for Jews to live as a tolerated minority in contemporary Istanbul, exploring the contradictions and gaps in the popular ideology of Turkey as a land of tolerance. ”

“Succeeds in applying anthropology to an urbanized and diverse community while deftly unraveling the dilemmas faced by Jews in Istanbul as they balance cosmopolitanism with maintaining a sense of who they are.”
 — Harvey E. Goldberg, Hebrew University

“Makes important contributions to the fields of Turkish studies, Jewish studies, and ethnographic writing. . . . Very sophisticated, . . . well written, and accessible.”
 — Esra Özyürek, author of Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey

“The book provides much important information and analysis on important issues regarding contemporary Turkish Jews, though some of the theoretical parts might be of more interest to anthropologists. The study is an important contribution to our knowledge of Jewish life in the 21st century Middle East in general and Turkey in particular, and is of relevance as well for those interested in minority and culture studies.”
 — AJL Reviews

“[A]n outstanding study . . . . [I]t solves the riddles of Turkish Jewish culture by offering a critical contribution to the discussion of cosmopolitanism.”
 — Comparative Studies in Society and History

“[A] marvelously provocative book . . . Highly recommended. ”
 — Choice

“Brink-Danan . . . ventures beyond the bland and the predictable and produces a thought-provoking book about an intriguing Jewish community in a fascinating Muslim country. ”
 — The Canadian Jewish News

“Brink-Danan’s volume offers a complex and thought-provoking portrait of Jewish life in twenty-first-century Turkey through the compelling lens of linguistic anthropology. It not only elucidates multiple facets of a Jewish community generally overlooked by scholars, but also encourages us to rethink the nature of 'cosmopolitanism,' 'tolerance,' and minority politics more broadly through the example of Turkey.”
 — H-Judaic H-Net

“Marcy Brink-Danan’s study offers a rare and insightful view of the multilayered dynamics between and profiles of individuals peopling Istanbul’s Jewish community. Jewish Life in 21st-Century Turkey is at once an important ethnographic investigation and a sociolinguistic analysis. As such, it stands apart from other studies of Turkey’s contemporary Jews.”
 — Slavic Review

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Table of Contents

Preface: The Ends and Beginnings of 1992

1. Tolerance, Difference, and Citizenship
2. Cosmopolitan Signs: Names as Foreign and Local
3. The Limits of Cosmopolitanism
4. Performing Difference: Turkish Jews on The National Stage
5. Intimate Negotiations: Turkish Jews Between Stages
6. The One Who Writes Difference: Inside Secrecy