By Tova Gamliel

The time period "wailing culture" contains an array of women’s behaviors and ideology following the loss of life of a member in their ethnic crew and is normal of Jewish lifestyles in Yemeni tradition. relevant to the perform is wailing itself—a detailed creative style that mixes speech with sobbing into relocating lyrical poetry that explores the which means of loss of life and loss. In Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing tradition of Yemenite Jewish ladies, Tova Gamliel decodes the cultural and mental meanings of this tradition in an ethnography according to her anthropological study between Yemenite Jewish groups in Israel in 2001–2003.

Based on participant-observervation in houses of the bereaved and on twenty-four in-depth interviews with wailing men and women, Gamliel illuminates wailing tradition point by means of point: via the circles during which the task happens; the specific parts of pastime that belong to girls; and the extensive social, historic, and non secular context that surrounds those internal circles. She discusses the most issues that outline the wailing tradition (including the historic origins of women’s wailing normally and of Yemenite Jewish wailing in particular), the qualities of wailing as a creative style, and the wailer as a symbolic variety. She additionally explores the position of wailing in dying rituals, as a healing services endowed with specified affective mechanisms, as an erotic functionality, as a livelihood, and as a hallmark of the Jewish exile. in any case, she considers wailing on the intersection of culture and modernity and examines the examine of wailing as a real methodological challenge.

Gamliel brings a delicate eye to the vanishing perform of wailing, which has been mostly unexamined through students and will be unusual to many open air of the center East. Her interdisciplinary point of view and her specialize in a uniquely lady immigrant cultural perform will make this examine attention-grabbing analyzing for students of anthropology, gender, folklore, psychology, functionality, philosophy, and sociology.

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Extra info for Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women

Sample text

First, wailing is presented in terms of the healing effect of weeping and the covert dialogues that the tears bring in train. By examining the wailer’s curative intentions and the audience’s performed response, I show that wailing plays a role in working through grief at two levels: first at the individual level, at which it also defines the continuation of the experience of loss in the mourners’ lives, and then at the collective level, due to its ability to close in on the audience and unite it in the solidarity consciousness of a collective in exile.

Indeed, in a society still dominated by the Western patriarchal order, the last of the wailing women are susceptible to this kind of triple marginalization. If one may apply to them a common metaphor in the field of critical gerontology, one may say that they are “transparent,” like most elderly women in modern societies and women who belong to groups that come into contact with values that glorify bodily aesthetics, beauty, youth, and efficiency (Arber and Ginn 1991). Furthermore, one may detect their absence in the feminist discourse, which until recently excluded aged women from the collective of women whose status merits discussion (Bernard, Chambers, and Granville 2000) and, oddly, their absence in the Israeli feminist discourse, which, in addition to excluding aged women, has focused almost entirely on Ashkenazic women (Motzafi-Haller 2001; Dahan-Kalev 2002, 2005).

The dialogues elicit a collection of lamentations that are presented in succession. Chapter 3, “Giving Words,” identifies categories in the wailing discourse and draws discursive lines with which one may understand them. The categories are sorted in accordance with a model comprising four arenas of identity in which the self and the Other meet. This split presentation sheds light on the voice that the wailer works through—a representative dialogic of others, living and dead—and the gift that her wailing lyrics award to members of the community.

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