The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Multiculturalism, Internationalism, or Anti-Semitism: The Perception of Jews in Latgale in the Twentieth Century: The 1970s–1990s

The proposed study is part of a research project dedicated to the Jewish text in Latgale (south-eastern part of Latvia) in the 1970s-1990s. Within the project, a field study – semi-structured interviews – has been carried out. The groups of respondents interviewed: representatives of Jewish ethnicity, born in the 1960s-1970s (currently living in Latvia and Israel), and representatives of non-Jewish ethnicities, born in the 1960s-1970s. One of the issues studied in the interviews is related to the identification of stereotypes about Jews. The formation and existence of stereotypes in the society will be considered in the synchronic and the diachronic perspectives with the aim to trace the logic of the formation, functioning and change of stereotypes depending on the historical context and the general cultural situation. As a result of the interview segmentation, a corpus of stereotypes will be created. The identification and collection of stereotypes is based on the methodology of bipolar rating scale and J. Briham’s percentage technique. The novelty of the research on stereotypes is the application of the comparative methodology: stereotypical perceptions of Jews in the society will be compared with the Jews’ own understanding and memories of the extent to which stereotypical thinking has influenced their well-being and communication principles in the society. The core of stereotypes is the ritual of blood, notions about the Jews’ appearance and physical flaws, the background of stereotypes is formed by the gastronomic code, the identification of traditions (circumcision, funeral, prayers). In the narrative of memories, these stereotypes are attributed to the circle of closest acquaintances (classmates, neighbours) and do not apply to representatives of two occupations: teachers and doctors.