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 crew and is general of Jewish existence in Yemeni tradition. significant to the perform is wailing itself—a detailed inventive style that mixes speech with sobbing into relocating lyrical poetry that explores the that 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 custom in an ethnography in response 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 via point: through the circles during which the task occurs; the specified components of exercise that belong to ladies; and the huge social, historic, 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 in general 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 special 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 learn of wailing as a real methodological challenge.
Gamliel brings a delicate eye to the vanishing perform of wailing, which has been mostly unexamined by means of students and should be surprising to many outdoor of the center East. Her interdisciplinary standpoint and her concentrate on a uniquely woman 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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Extra resources for Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women
At the next death event, too, if a wailer performs in the middle of the all-embracing misery, her mantle of honor will endure. This argument concerning honor is especially correct in the eyes of participants in the ﬁrst circle, elderly people who have been oriented in the wailing culture and its community conﬁgurations since their days in Yemen. The epilogue, “The Lament of the Printed Words,” separates the message of this audience, on which the chapters of the ethnography are based, from that of the second-circle audience, the children and grandchildren of the immigrants from Yemen who participate in the performance but hardly blunt their criticism on that account.
They experienced this relative liberation as something that was correct and adequate, without embracing the “Ashkenazi package deal” and its secular values (Gilad 1989, 229; Katzir 1976). Hence, it is clear why these women’s ambition to shake oﬀ their past, with its baggage of inferiority, discrimination, and servitude, does not clash with the preservation of the wailing culture; in fact, the one is consistent with the other. For these women, wailing and the religious legitimacy that it commands are a special arena of control in the community sphere.
The circle separated itself from women’s wailing but also accommodated it, and the tears, initially attributed to the nature of women, recurred in the men’s testimonies and also ﬂowed in the men’s own settings. The participants in the circle admitted that they had cried. Their reﬂective observation alludes to the dual connection in death rituals between separation and uniﬁcation of the sexes, between death and the celebration of life. The value of honoring the dead serves as a social justiﬁcation for the establishment of a wailing culture.
Aesthetics of Sorrow: The Wailing Culture of Yemenite Jewish Women by Tova Gamliel