Negotiating and Performing “Jewish Australian” Identity in South-East Queensland’s Jewish Community: Creolization, National Identity and Power

Abstract

The Jewish community of South-East Queensland, Australia, has always been in constant negotiation with the mainstream Queensland society around it regarding its relationship with dominant Australian national identity. This results in two different forms of identity—a compartmentalized identity, where Australianness and Jewishness are experienced and expressed separately within their own discrete situations, and a creolized identity, where elements of both Australianness and Jewishness are taken and blended into a distinctive new cultural form. Using ethnographic data, this article explores the negotiation between Jewishness and Australianness in group identity. Rather than compartmentalizing Jewishness away from Australianness, a creolized performative “Jewish Australian” identity is given collective expression by the community. This allows the community to showcase an identity that embraces an Australian identity which is predominant across the nation, but reframes this with Jewish values, behaviours and symbols to empower their minority Jewish identity which might otherwise be dismissed and subjugated.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The names of all participants have been anonymised, as per the Code of Ethics of the Australian Anthropological Society, https://www.aas.asn.au/the-aas/code-of-ethics/.

  2. 2.

    The terminology “Jew by choice” is preferred in contemporary Jewish circles over “convert” or Hebrew “ger”, which have come to have negative connotations (Tabachnik and Foster 1991)

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Acknowledgements

The author wishes to thank Professor David Trigger and Dr Gerhard Hoffstaedter of the School of Social Science, University of Queensland, for their comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this work. This research was made possible with the assistance of an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship from the University of Queensland Graduate School.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Creese.

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Creese, J. Negotiating and Performing “Jewish Australian” Identity in South-East Queensland’s Jewish Community: Creolization, National Identity and Power. Int. Migration & Integration 21, 1279–1294 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-019-00714-8

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Keywords

  • Identity
  • Multiculturalism
  • Creolization
  • Performativity
  • Jewish
  • Australia