Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 18–33 | Cite as

Troubling catergoriesi can’t think without: reflections on women in the holocaust

  • R. Ruth Linden


The discussion of women and the Holocaust is situated in the context of two early projects: an experimental course sponsored by San Francisco Hiliel and Lehrhaus Judaica in 1984 and a dialogue on the topic initiated by feminist artist Judy Chicago in 1988. Two questions are examined: Who are the women in the Holocaust? and who are the researchers/ scholars framing inquiry into the topic? My reading of these projects suggests that Holocaust scholars should pay careful attention to how we set the boundaries of inquiry by defining certain historical and cutural subjects as epicentral while regarding others as peripheral, and cautions against construing gender in universalizing and “natural” terms. My title is borrowed from Lather (1995). The fall sentence from which I have quoted reads, “I trouble the very categories I can’t think without” (1995: 13)


Jewish Woman Contemporary JEWRY Jewish History Holocaust Survivor Historical Reality 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Babcock, Barbara A. 1980. “Reflexivity: Definitions and Discriminations.”Semiotica 30: 1–314.Google Scholar
  2. Bauman, Zygmunt. 1989.Modernity and the Holocaust. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Berenbaum, Michael (ed.). 1990. A Mosaic of Victims. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bock, Gisela. 1983. “Racism and Sexism in Nazi Germany: Motherhood, Compulsory Sterilization, and the State.”Signs 8: 400–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bravo, Anna. 1985. “Italian Women in the Nazi Camps-Aspects of Identity in Their Accounts.”Oral History Journal 13: 20–27.Google Scholar
  6. Butler, Judith. 1989.Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Chicago, Judy. 1988a. “I’m Working on an Idea for a Large Image.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  8. -. 1988b “My Mission as an Artist.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  9. Chalk, Frank and Kurt Jonassohn. 1990.The History and Sociology of Genocide. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Clifford, James and George E. Marcus (eds.). 1986.Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  11. Crapanzano, Vincent. 1977. “The Life History in Anthropological Field Work.”Anthropology and Humanism Quarterly 2: 3–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. ——. 1980.Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Feig, Konnilyn G. 1981.Hitler’s Death Camps: The Sanity of Madness. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  14. -. 1982. “Women and the Holocaust.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  15. Felstiner, Mary Lowenmal. 1989. “What I Would Like to Contribute.”Holocaust Project Newsletter 3: 5.Google Scholar
  16. -. 1993. “Overcoming Silence.”Women’s Review of Books October:: 9–10.Google Scholar
  17. ——. 1994.To Paint Her Life. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  18. Fink, Nan. 1989. “I Think There’s Something to Be Learned.”Holocaust Project Newsletter 3: 5.Google Scholar
  19. Geertz, Clifford. 1983. “From the Native’s Point of View: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding.” Pp. 55–70 in Clifford GeertzLocal Knowledge. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  20. Haraway, Donna. 1988. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.”Feminist Studies 14: 575–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harding, Sandra. 1987.The Science Question in Feminism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hilberg, Raul. 1985.The Destruction of European Jews, def. rev. ed. 3 vols. New York: Holmes and Meier.Google Scholar
  23. Katz, Esther and Joan MiriamRingelheim (eds.) 1983.Women Surviving the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Conference. New York: Institute for Research in History.Google Scholar
  24. Kaufman, Debra Renee. 1996. “The Holocaust and Sociological Inquiry: A Feminist Analysis.”Contemproary Jewry 17: 6–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Keller, Everyn Fox. 1984.Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kondo, Dorinne K. 1986. “Dissolution and Reconstruction of Self: Implications for Anthropological Epistemology.”Cultural Anthropology 1: 74–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Laska, Vera. 1982. “Nazism, Resistance, and the Holocaust in World War II.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  28. ——. 1983. Women in the Resistance and in the Holocaust: The Voices ofGreenwood Press Eyewitnesses. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  29. Lather, Parti. 1995. “Naked Methodology: Researching the Lives of Women with HTV/ATDS.” Paper presented to the conference on “Revisioning Women, Health and Healing: Feminist, Cultural and Technoscience Perspectives.” San Francisco, 7 October.Google Scholar
  30. Linden, R. Ruth. 1981. “The Social Construction of Gender.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  31. —— 1986. “Paths Through the Holocaust: Jewish Survivors’ Accounts of the Nazi Era.” Paper presented at the Murray Research Center, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass., 29 October.Google Scholar
  32. ——. 1989. “I Have Been Thinking.”Holocaust Project Newsletter 3: 4.Google Scholar
  33. ——. 1993.Making Stories, Making Selves: Feminist Reflections on the Holocaust. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Marcus, George E. and Michael M.J. Fischer. 1986.Anthropology as Cultural Critique. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Milton, Sybil. 1984. “Women and the Holocaust: The Case of German and German-Jewish Women.” Pp. 297–333 inWhen Biology Became Destiny: Women in Weimar and Nazi Germany, edited by R. Bridenthal, A. Grossman, and M. Kaplan. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  36. Myerhoff, Barbara and Jay Ruby. 1982. “Introduction.” Pp. 1–35 inA Crack in the Mirror: Reflexive Perspectives in Anthropology edited by J. Ruby. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  37. Owings, Alison. 1993.Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Popular Memory Group. 1982. “Popular Memory: Theory, Politics, Method.” Pp. 205–252 inMaking Histories: Studies in History-Writing and Politics, edited by R. Johnson, G. McLennan, B. Schwartz, and D. Sutton. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  39. Prell Riv-Ellen. 1989. “The Double Frame of Life History in the Work of Barbara Myerhoff.” Pp. 241–258 inInterpreting Women’s Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narratives, edited by Personal Narratives Group. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Richardson, Laurel. 1988. “The Collective Story: Postmodernism and the Writing of Sociology.”Sociological Focus 21: 199–208.Google Scholar
  41. Ringelheim, Joan Miriam. 1984. “The Unethical and the Unspeakable: Women and the Holocaust.”Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual 1: 69–87.Google Scholar
  42. ——. 1985. “Women and the Holocaust: A Reconsideration of Research.”Signs 10: 741–761.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. -. 1988. “Round-robin Letter for Women and Holocaust Image.” Unpublished.Google Scholar
  44. ——. 1989. “The Effect of the Holocaust on Jewish Women.”Holocaust Project Newsletter 3: 6.Google Scholar
  45. Rubenstein, Richard. 1978.The Cunning of History. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  46. Rubin, Gayle. 1975. “The Traffic in Women: Notes on me Political Economy’ of Sex.” Pp. 157–210 inToward an Anthropology of Women, edited by R. Reiter. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  47. Ruby, Jay. 1980. “Exposing Yourself: Reflexivity, Anthropology, and Film.”Semiotica 30: 153–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Scott, Joan. 1989. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” Pp. 81–100 inComing to Terms: Feminism, Theory, Politics edited by E. Weed. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  49. Tlalim, Asher. 1994. “Don’t Touch My Holocaust.” SET Productions: Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  50. Traweek, Sharon. 1995. “Acting on Images: Patiently Exploring Ob/ Gyn in Japan, England and the US.” Paper presented to the Conference on “Revisioning Women, Health and Healing: Feminist, Cultural and Technoscience Perspectives.” San Francisco, October.Google Scholar
  51. Van Maanen, John. 1988.Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  52. Veiel, Andres. 1993. “Balagan.” Journal Film: Berlin.Google Scholar
  53. White, Hayden. 1992. “Historical Emplotment and the Problem of Truth.” Pp. 37–53 inProbing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the “Final Solution” edited by S. Friedlander. Cambridge,Mass: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Women and the Holocaust. 1989.Holocaust Project Newsletter 3: 4–7.Google Scholar
  55. Young, James E. 1993.The Texture of Memory. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Ruth Linden
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanford

Personalised recommendations