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Dr. Jürgen Schaflechner: Alleged Jewish Life in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Secret ethnography, ethnography of a secret

May 03, 2023 | 04:00 PM c.t.


Berlin Anthropology Seminars (Summer 2023)
Wednesdays, 4-6 pm (c.t.), on-site and online

May 3
Dr. Jürgen Schaflechner
Institut für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie, Freie Universität Berlin

"Alleged Jewish Life in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:
ethnography, ethnography of a secret"

“Where are Pakistan’s Jews today?” This question has fascinated numerous writers, journalists, and, more recently, digital content producers in Pakistan. While some believe that all Jews have left the Islamic Republic, others claim that a small (and potentially influential) group still lives in hiding in Pakistan today. The arrival of social media has further proliferated reports of allegedly hidden and influential Jewish life, exacerbating the passions surrounding crypto-Judaism. The origin of this fascination is twofold. On the one hand, it can be linked to religious and political discourses in Pakistan, frequently infused with antizionist and antisemitic tropes. On the other hand, it is connected to notions of secret Jewish power found in popular culture and often directly elevated from the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In this paper, I reflect on the intense, ambivalent, and contagious passions produced by the trope of the hidden Jewish presence in the Islamic Republic. I also show how the practices of secrecy surrounding this mystery have not only provided my interlocuters with novel capabilities within their quite precarious lifeworlds but also caused me to become a part of the very secret I had come to unravel.

Join us on-site in the FU Seminar Centre,
Otto-von-Simson-Str. 26, 14195 Berlin, room L116.

Or online in our Webex room:
meeting ID: 2731 960 1442, password: BASsummer23

This seminar series constitutes a joint initiative by anthropologists from the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at FU Berlin, ZMO, and Ethnologisches Museum. It intends to shape and cultivate an inclusive platform and open regular meeting point for exchange and discussion on current research by Berlin-based anthropologists. Please spread the word among colleagues, junior or senior, who may be interested. For further questions contact m.oschwald@fu-berlin.de

Organizers: Paola Ivanov, Claudia Liebelt, and Kai Kresse.

Time & Location

May 03, 2023 | 04:00 PM c.t.