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Abstract

How has the discipline of anthropology studied Judaism? This review provides a brief overview of the variety of approaches the discipline has taken to the subject of Jewish religion, society and culture. By situating these approaches in their historical, political and geographic locations, I offer a comparative look at the development of a sub-discipline of the anthropology of religion. In addition to providing a comparative review of the sub-discipline, I also highlight theoretical issues which remain central to the anthropological study of Judaism. These include: reflexivity in the writing of Jewish ethnography, the conceptual problem inherent in using ‘religion’ as the category through which many scholars define Judaism, the place of Judaism in anthropological theories of Diaspora and, lastly, the overemphasis on the notion of ‘memory’ in so many Jewish ethnographies.