Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish by Tova Gamliel

By Tova Gamliel

The time period "wailing culture" comprises an array of women’s behaviors and ideology following the demise of a member in their ethnic team and is general of Jewish lifestyles in Yemeni tradition. vital to the perform is wailing itself—a distinctive creative style that mixes speech with sobbing into relocating lyrical poetry that explores the that means of loss of life and loss. In Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing tradition of Yemenite Jewish girls, Tova Gamliel decodes the cultural and mental meanings of this custom in an ethnography in line with her anthropological learn 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: through the circles within which the task happens; the detailed components of recreation that belong to ladies; and the vast social, old, and non secular context that surrounds those internal circles. She discusses the most issues that outline the wailing tradition (including the old origins of women’s wailing mostly and of Yemenite Jewish wailing in particular), the characteristics of wailing as a creative style, and the wailer as a symbolic style. She additionally explores the function of wailing in loss of life rituals, as a healing services endowed with exact affective mechanisms, as an erotic functionality, as a livelihood, and as a trademark of the Jewish exile. in spite of everything, she considers wailing on the intersection of culture and modernity and examines the research of wailing as a real methodological challenge.

Gamliel brings a delicate eye to the vanishing perform of wailing, which has been mostly unexamined via students and should be surprising to many outdoor of the center East. Her interdisciplinary point of view and her specialize in a uniquely girl immigrant cultural perform will make this learn attention-grabbing studying for students of anthropology, gender, folklore, psychology, functionality, philosophy, and sociology.

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Additional resources for Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women

Sample text

I justify the centrality of AbuLughod’s work in my case study due to the hypothesis that surfaces from the aforementioned sources as well as from my respondents that women’s wailing in Yemen was well developed only among the Jews. As I gathered these cultural tableaux, which are not exclusively Jewish, I discovered that wailing is a configuration of demonstrative coping with death. Wailers are those who have the talent to express emotions. They shriek, abrade their skin, and gesticulate dramatically.

I returned but did not see her; she had not joined the consolers at all. In the second case, one morning I called Rachel,1 one of the professional wailers, several weeks after I had interviewed her in her home. She informed me that she would be visiting a mourners’ house out of town that evening; her acquaintances had invited her, and she had promised to perform. I came and found her seated near the women mourners, conversing with them quietly. When she noticed me, she smiled apologetically. She related that she could not let herself wail in this special and tragic house of mourning, where not only had the paterfamilias just died but his wife had been taken to the hospital with heart failure.

This dialogue with otherness was possible became the interviewee contemplated the topic from one vantage point, the traditional world of values. This is not to say that she sought to justify these values only due to her familiarity with and respect for them; instead, each of the three additional aspects of tradition (belonging/identity, normative, and legitimate) continues to play some role in her life and is valid at some level. She is a religious woman, as the kerchief on her head, her long dress, her spicy Arabic-Hebrew, and her quoting of Scripture attest.

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