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180 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 become individually defined, are well posed, but rather bleak if not applied in a larger theoretical framework. Similarly, the political turmoil of the 80s and early 90s is adequately referenced, but few examples of the vast socioeconomic changes which affected the region (and, thus, Jewish communities in that region) are addressed. Gordiejew certainly captures the complexity of community transformation in the midst of the ethno-nationalist crossfire, but never does the author make reference to the new global political order which some have labeled as disorganized capitalism (see, for example, Scott Lash and John Urry in The End ofOrganized Capitalism [1987] on this point), or others as a disjuncture between culture and political economy (see for a discussion of this Arjun Appadurai in Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions ofGlobalisation [1996]), or other "outside" forces which have had an impact on the construction ofthe New Ethnic Community. Instead, contemporary Jewish communities in Yugoslavia are described as "... a different kind of Jewish community, one that perhaps had existed earlier but not in such a politicized form" (p. 409). The reader is hence left with a description of an ethnic/religious group which has taken on the task ofself-definition, a position which typifies the postmodern condition and movement towards a kind of multiculturalism which is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the one experienced in the former Yugoslavia. In the end, the roughly 430 pages oftext provide those familiar with the region with an excellent description ofJewry living within the fission and fusion of the ethnic republics which comprise the Balkans. To those who are familiar with the region and Jewish community life in particular, myself included, the work is no less than an inspiration. Ginger Hofman Department of Sociology/ Anthropology Purdue University The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora, by Joel Beinin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. 329 pp. The Jewish community of Egypt has fascinated many. And rightly so. Its numerous contributions to modem Egyptian life have been increasingly realized and marvelled at. Particularly, as historians have looked into the economic history ofmodem Egypt, they have noted the dynamic role that Jewish business persons played in finance, commerce, and industrialization. It is hard to imagine that two decades ago only a handful of specialists were familiar with names like Suares, Qattawi, Cicurel, and Rolo, though Egyptian residents from the 1940s and 1950s would have had no difficulty identifying these families. Today, many ofthese individuals find their way into standard histories Book Reviews 181 of the country, for these are the persons who founded and led significant Egyptian business finns and directed large amounts of investment capital into the Egyptian economy. It is hardly surprising, then, that over the last several decades the Jewish community has received more scholarly attention than its small size in the total population would have seemed to warrant. It never exceeded 90,000, yet its members appear in almost every avenue of modern Egyptian life. Nearly all ofthese studies break off in 1948 at the moment ofthe Arab-Israeli war, or in 1952 when Nasser's intense Arab nationalism seemed to offer no space for minority groups. Joel Beinin's The Dispersion ofEgyptian Jewry demonstrates why these cut-offdates are misleading. Nor, for that matter, did the British-French-Israeli invasion ofEgypt in 1956, which witnessed a vast exodus ofJews from Egypt, sever the psychological ties of these emigres from their original home. That most researchers have chosen to tenninate their studies in the late 1940s or the 1950s becomes obvious in Beinin's book. Assembling data from a scattered community in many different languages is no easy assignment. Beinin cast his research net over the Middle East, Europe, and North America. He read treatises and interviewed family members in various European languages, Arabic, and Hebrew. Beinin frames his study of Egyptian Jewry against two competing, but in his opinion greatly flawed perspectives . The first, a pro-Zionist position, is that Egyptian Jewry lived a precarious and persecuted existence in Egypt and were only saved because of the existence of the Zionist state. The second, regularly enunciated by the Egyptian government...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 180-182
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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