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    Locating an elusive ethics: surface and depth in a Jewish ethnography

    Sheldon, Ruth (2021) Locating an elusive ethics: surface and depth in a Jewish ethnography. In: Strhan, A. and Robbins, J. and Henig, D. (eds.) Ethics Between Philosophy and Social Theory An Interdisciplinary Approach to Finding the Good in the World. London, UK: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781350104150. (In Press)

    Sheldon_Surface and Depth_final submission_August 2018.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript

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    In recent years, questions of morality and ethics have become an explicit focus of attention within the social sciences and humanities. Within this burgeoning interdisciplinary field, debates have crystallised between scholars of ‘the good’ and proponents of ‘ordinary ethics’. The stakes here include apparently incommensurable conceptions of moral action, language and subjectivity as well as underlying tensions over disciplinary genealogies. In this chapter, I draw on ethnographic research into Jewish life in Hackney in order to engage these debates from an as yet unexplored perspective. I begin by considering the tensions and consequences of my naming ‘the good’ and ‘ethics’ as a research object and ask how these terms resonate within orthodox Jewish contexts that are also gendered in distinctive ways. I consider what is at stake as I, a somehow ‘assimilated’ Jewish woman, searched for a transcendent ‘Jewish ethics’, and discuss how an ordinary ethics gradually emerged as I learned to stay with the unsettling interplay between surface and depth in my fieldwork. My broader aim is to show how Jewish ethnography as one under-acknowledged ‘other’ within the social sciences can speak back to some implicitly Christian, colonial and masculine grammars structuring this field.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Bloomsbury Academic, available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): The good, ordinary ethics, gender, orthodox Judaism
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Ruth Sheldon
    Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2021 09:34
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:46


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