Authentically Jewish
Identity, Culture, and the Struggle for Recognition
Stuart Z. Charmé
Rutgers University Press, 2022
This book analyzes the different conceptions of authenticity that are behind conflicts over who and what should be recognized as authentically Jewish.  Although the concept of authenticity has been around for several centuries, it became a central focus for Jews since existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre raised the question in the 1940s. Building on the work of Sartre, later Jewish thinkers, philosophers, anthropologists, and cultural theorists, the book offers a model of Jewish authenticity that seeks to balance history and tradition, creative freedom and innovation, and the importance of recognition among different groups within an increasingly multicultural Jewish community.
Author Stuart Z. Charmé explores how debates over authenticity and struggles for recognition are a key to understanding a wide range of controversies between Orthodox and liberal Jews, Zionist and diaspora Jews, white Jews and Jews of color, as well as the status of intermarried and messianic Jews, and the impact of Jewish genetics.  In addition, it discusses how and when various cultural practices and traditions such as klezmer music, Israeli folk dance, Jewish yoga and meditation, and others are recognized as authentically Jewish, or not.

Blind to Sameness
Sexpectations and the Social Construction of Male and Female Bodies
Asia Friedman
University of Chicago Press, 2013
What is the role of the senses in how we understand the world? Cognitive sociology has long addressed the way we perceive or imagine boundaries in our ordinary lives, but Asia Friedman pushes this question further still. How, she asks, did we come to blind ourselves to sex sameness?

Drawing on more than sixty interviews with two decidedly different populations—the blind and the transgendered—Blind to Sameness answers provocative questions about the relationships between sex differences, biology, and visual perception. Both groups speak from unique perspectives that magnify the social construction of dominant visual conceptions of sex, allowing Friedman to examine the visual construction of the sexed body and highlighting the processes of social perception underlying our everyday experience of male and female bodies. The result is a notable contribution to the sociologies of gender, culture, and cognition that will revolutionize the way we think about sex.

Buried Indians
Digging Up the Past in a Midwestern Town
Laurie Hovell McMillin
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006

    In Buried Indians, Laurie Hovell McMillin presents the struggle of her hometown, Trempealeau, Wisconsin, to determine whether platform mounds atop Trempealeau Mountain constitute authentic Indian mounds. This dispute, as McMillin subtly demonstrates, reveals much about the attitude and interaction-past and present-between the white and Indian inhabitants of this Midwestern town.
    McMillin's account, rich in detail and sensitive to current political issues of American Indian interactions with the dominant European American culture, locates two opposing views: one that denies a Native American presence outright and one that asserts its long history and ruthless destruction. The highly reflective oral histories McMillin includes turn Buried Indians into an accessible, readable portrait of a uniquely American culture clash and a dramatic narrative grounded in people's genuine perceptions of what the platform mounds mean.


The Fine Line
Eviatar Zerubavel
University of Chicago Press, 1993
Eviatar Zerubavel argues that most of the distinctions we make in our daily lives and in our culture are social constructs. He questions the notion that a clear line can be drawn to separate one time or object or concept from another, and presents witty and provocative counterexamples in defense of ambiguity and anomaly.

The Iconoclastic Imagination
Image, Catastrophe, and Economy in America from the Kennedy Assassination to September 11
Ned O'Gorman
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Bloody, fiery spectacles—the Challenger disaster, 9/11, JFK’s assassination—have given us moments of catastrophe that make it easy to answer the “where were you when” question and shape our ways of seeing what came before and after. Why are these spectacles so packed with meaning?

In The Iconoclastic Imagination, Ned O’Gorman approaches each of these moments as an image of icon-destruction that give us distinct ways to imagine social existence in American life. He argues that the Cold War gave rise to crises in political, aesthetic, and political-aesthetic representations. Locating all of these crises within a “neoliberal imaginary,” O’Gorman explains that since the Kennedy assassination, the most powerful way to see “America” has been in the destruction of representative American symbols or icons. This, in turn, has profound implications for a neoliberal economy, social philosophy, and public policy. Richly interwoven with philosophical, theological, and rhetorical traditions, the book offers a new foundation for a complex and innovative approach to studying Cold War America, political theory, and visual culture.

Inside the Antisemitic Mind
The Language of Jew-Hatred in Contemporary Germany
Monika Schwarz-Friesel and Jehuda Reinharz
Brandeis University Press, 2017
Antisemitism never disappeared in Europe. In fact, there is substantial evidence that it is again on the rise, manifest in violent acts against Jews in some quarters, but more commonly noticeable in everyday discourse in mainstream European society. This innovative empirical study examines written examples of antisemitism in contemporary Germany. It demonstrates that hostility against Jews is not just a right-wing phenomenon or a phenomenon among the uneducated, but is manifest among all social classes, including intellectuals. Drawing on 14,000 letters and e-mails sent between 2002 and 2012 to the Central Council of Jews in Germany and to the Israeli embassy in Berlin, as well as communications sent between 2010 and 2011 to Israeli embassies in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Spain, this volume shows how language plays a crucial role in activating and re-activating antisemitism. In addition, the authors investigate the role of emotions in antisemitic argumentation patterns and analyze “anti-Israelism” as the dominant form of contemporary hatred of Jews.

Who We Become after Facial Paralysis
Faye Linda Wachs
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Losing her smile to synkinesis after unresolved Bell’s Palsy changed how Faye Linda Wachs was seen by others and her internal experience of self. In Metamorphosis, interviewing over 100 people with acquired facial difference challenged her presumptions about identity, disability, and lived experience. Participants described microaggressions, internalizations, and minimalizations, and their impact on identity. Heartbreakingly, synkinesis disrupts the ability to have shared moments.  When one experiences spontaneous emotion, wrong nerves trigger mis-feel and misperception by others. One is misread by others and receives confusing internal information. Communication of and to the self is irrevocably damaged. Wachs describes the experience as a social disability. People found a host of creative ways to reinvigorate their sense of self and self-expression. Like so many she interviewed, Wachs experiences a process of change and growth as she is challenged to think more deeply about ableism, identity, and who she wants to be.

Questions About Questions
Inquiries into the Cognitive Bases of Surveys
Judith M. Tanur
Russell Sage Foundation, 1992
The social survey has become an essential tool in modern society, providing crucial measurements of social change, describing social life, and guiding government policy. But the validity of surveys is fragile and depends ultimately upon the accuracy of answers to survey questions. As our dependence on surveys grows, so too have questions about the accuracy of survey responses. Authored by a group of experts in cognitive psychology, linguistics, and survey research, Questions About Questions provides a broad review of the survey response problem. Examining the cognitive and social processes that influence the answers to questions, the book first takes up the problem of meaning and demonstrates that a respondent must share the survey researcher's intended meaning of a question if the response is to be revealing and informative. The book then turns to an examination of memory. It provides a framework for understanding the processes that can introduce errors into retrospective reports, useful guidance on when those reports are more or less trustworthy, and investigates techniques for the improvement of such reports. Questions about the rigid standardization imposed on the survey interview receive a thorough airing as the authors show how traditional survey formats violate the usual norms of conversational behavior and potentially endanger the validity of the data collected. Synthesizing the work of the Social Science Research Council's Committee on Cognition and Survey Research, Questions About Questions emphasizes the reciprocal gains to be achieved when insights and techniques from the cognitive sciences and survey research are exchanged. "these chapters provide a good sense of the range of survey problems investigated by the cognitive movement, the methods and ideas it draws upon, and the results it has yielded." —American Journal of Sociology

Signaling Goodness
Social Rules and Public Choice
Phillip J. Nelson and Kenneth V. Greene
University of Michigan Press, 2003
Political, intellectual, and academic discourse in the United States has been awash in political correctness, which has itself been berated and defended -- yet little understood. As a corrective, Nelson and Greene look at a more general process: adopting political positions to enhance one's reputation for trustworthiness both to others and to oneself.
Phillip Nelson and Kenneth Greene are Professors of Economics in the Department of Economics at the State University of New York, Binghamton.

Social Mindscapes
An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology
Eviatar Zerubavel
Harvard University Press, 1999

Why do we eat sardines, but never goldfish; ducks, but never parrots? Why does adding cheese make a hamburger a "cheeseburger" whereas adding ketchup does not make it a "ketchupburger"? By the same token, how do we determine which things said at a meeting should be included in the minutes and which ought to be considered "off the record" and officially disregarded?

In this wide-ranging and provocative book, Eviatar Zerubavel argues that cognitive science cannot answer these questions, since it addresses cognition on only two levels: the individual and the universal. To fill the gap between the Romantic vision of the solitary thinker whose thoughts are the product of unique experience, and the cognitive-psychological view, which revolves around the search for the universal foundations of human cognition, Zerubavel charts an expansive social realm of mind--a domain that focuses on the conventional, normative aspects of the way we think.

With witty anecdote and revealing analogy, Zerubavel illuminates the social foundation of mental actions such as perceiving, attending, classifying, remembering, assigning meaning, and reckoning the time. What takes place inside our heads, he reminds us, is deeply affected by our social environments, which are typically groups that are larger than the individual yet considerably smaller than the human race. Thus, we develop a nonuniversal software for thinking as Americans or Chinese, lawyers or teachers, Catholics or Jews, Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers. Zerubavel explores the fascinating ways in which thought communities carve up and classify reality, assign meanings, and perceive things, "defamiliarizing" in the process many taken-for-granted assumptions.


Beyond Recognition
Kelly Oliver
University of Minnesota Press, 2001
A new, ethically based theory of identity by a major scholar. Challenging the fundamental tenet of the multicultural movement-that social struggles turning upon race, gender, and sexuality are struggles for recognition-this work offers a powerful critique of current conceptions of identity and subjectivity based on Hegelian notions of recognition. The author's critical engagement with major texts of contemporary philosophy prepares the way for a highly original conception of ethics based on witnessing. Central to this project is Oliver's contention that the demand for recognition is a symptom of the pathology of oppression that perpetuates subject-object and same-different hierarchies. While theorists across the disciplines of the humanities and social sciences focus their research on multiculturalism around the struggle for recognition, Oliver argues that the actual texts and survivors' accounts from the aftermath of the Holocaust and slavery are testimonials to a pathos that is "beyond recognition." Oliver traces many of the problems with the recognition model of subjective identity to a particular notion of vision presupposed in theories of recognition and misrecognition. Contesting the idea of an objectifying gaze, she reformulates vision as a loving look that facilitates connection rather than necessitates alienation. As an alternative, Oliver develops a theory of witnessing subjectivity. She suggests that the notion of witnessing, with its double meaning as either eyewitness or bearing witness to the unseen, is more promising than recognition for describing the onset and sustenance of subjectivity. Subjectivity is born out of and sustained by the process of witnessing-the possibility of address and response-which puts ethical obligations at its heart. "In a tour de force, nourished by a host of thinkers from Levinas to Fanon, Kristeva, Butler, and Irigaray among others, Oliver works her way back behind the many philosophical anthropologies based upon the preeminence of recognition in the formation of a subject. Witnessing is a work of positive, exhortatory philosophy." --Continental Philosophy Review Kelly Oliver is professor of philosophy and women's studies at SUNY Stony Brook. She is the author of, among other works, The Colonization of Psychic Space (2004) and, with Benigno Trigo, Noir Anxiety (2002).