Subjectivity as a Site of Struggle: Experiences of Antisemitism in the Israeli Diaspora

Seminar hosted by Pears Institute and Institute for Social Research

Event Information and Booking

10th May, 2011
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Council Room, Birkbeck College, University of London, Torrington Square main entrance, Bloomsbury, London WC1
Professor Tim McNamara, The University of Melbourne, Australia

The construction of subjectivity within discourse is experienced particularly sharply when relocation to a new social context, for example through immigration, results in exposure to highly relevant discourses which, while familiar, may not have been experienced directly.  This defines the situation of Israelis choosing to leave Israel to live in the Diaspora, who have to find ways of coming to terms with the antisemitism they now experience directly themselves, perhaps for the first time.  This paper re-examines some unpublished data from an interview study of Israelis in Melbourne, Australia, describing their encounters, direct and indirect, with the discourse of antisemitism and the counter-discourses they cite in order (desirably) to disarm the significance of such experiences.  It uses a Derridean perspective to frame the conflict they experience.

Professor Tim McNamara is discipline chair of linguistics and applied linguistics at Melbourne University, Australia. A world leading expert on language testing, his research has focused on performance assessment, theories of validity, the use of Rasch models, and the social and political meaning of language tests. His work on language and identity has focused on the impact of poststructuralist approaches to identity and subjectivity, and he has a particular interest in the writings on language of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. Tim is the author of Language Testing (OUP, 2000) and co-author (with Carsten Roever) of Language Testing: The Social Dimension (Blackwell, 2006). He is currently a visiting research fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London, where he did his MA.

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