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

By Tova Gamliel

The time period "wailing culture" contains an array of women’s behaviors and ideology following the demise of a member in their ethnic workforce and is normal of Jewish lifestyles in Yemeni tradition. important to the perform is wailing itself—a particular creative style that mixes speech with sobbing into relocating lyrical poetry that explores the which means of dying and loss. In Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing tradition of Yemenite Jewish ladies, Tova Gamliel decodes the cultural and mental meanings of this tradition in an ethnography according to her anthropological study 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 way of point: via the circles within which the task occurs; the targeted parts of activity that belong to girls; and the huge social, old, and non secular context that surrounds those internal circles. She discusses the most subject matters that outline the wailing tradition (including the ancient origins of women’s wailing regularly and of Yemenite Jewish wailing in particular), the features of wailing as a creative style, and the wailer as a symbolic kind. She additionally explores the position of wailing in demise rituals, as a healing services endowed with specified affective mechanisms, as an erotic functionality, as a livelihood, and as a trademark of the Jewish exile. finally, 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 through students and will be strange to many outdoors of the center East. Her interdisciplinary viewpoint and her concentrate on a uniquely lady immigrant cultural perform will make this research interesting analyzing for students of anthropology, gender, folklore, psychology, functionality, philosophy, and sociology.

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Extra info for Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women

Sample text

For some, wailing and wailers are off-putting from the value standpoint, and they wonder: how can there be a stylized articulation of sadness, and how can performance intersect with spontaneity and sincerity? In their eyes, wailing, among all traditional death rituals, is a conspicuous form of deception (Wouters 2002) that breaches the boundaries of emotional autonomy and impairs the authenticity of the self. Performed Weeping The essence of wailing as performed weeping leaves ethnographers sorely puzzled.

As stated, however, i n t r od uc t ion / 31 wailing also has a negative connotation: the younger generation considers it a performance that molds a subjective emotion in order to fit it into a cultural agenda. Wailing applies the coercive power of art at a time of crisis. For some, wailing and wailers are off-putting from the value standpoint, and they wonder: how can there be a stylized articulation of sadness, and how can performance intersect with spontaneity and sincerity? In their eyes, wailing, among all traditional death rituals, is a conspicuous form of deception (Wouters 2002) that breaches the boundaries of emotional autonomy and impairs the authenticity of the self.

She knows how to tell anecdotes about wailing because she witnessed and heard them; thus, she also knows how to delve into the minutiae of what is accepted and not accepted in this tradition. However, a tone of nostalgia accompanies her words almost from the very start; the pictures that she draws have already begun to fade under the pounding of reality. What is the nature of this reality? The interviewee concludes her remarks by limiting women’s wailing to the cultural-historical context that Yemen represents for her.

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