Dr. Yehuda Goodman



Dr. Yehuda Goodman
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Prof. Gad Yair
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Last update: 28-Nov-2010

Academic Biography

Yehuda Goodman's central interest lies in the pragmatics of identity politics and forms of cultural criticism – which he explores in various contexts in Israel, including therapeutic settings, religious conversions, schools, and the army. Yehuda examines the dynamic formation of identities through the negotiations between individuals and groups on how they are socially and personally constituted and represented. Identity formations become increasingly complicated in late modernity, he argues, as subjects construct themselves and are being constructed in the face of contradictory forces: On the one hand, they are governed by dominant modern discourses, particularly professional knowledge, which are presumably inclusive and universal (like psychology, or the nation-state and its institutions). On the other hand, however, at the basis of these seemingly objective discourses lie moral voices and political powers. Identities are not given then, but used by social actors as part of deep contestations within and between social groups, within self/other relations, and in the midst of shifting social boundaries. Yehuda aims at deconstructing these discourses and exploring how they de-politicize questions about religious, gender, ethnic and national conflicts. He follows, in particular, the social action involved: how subjects construct themselves and others within contested social fields. Yehuda works within various sub-fields of anthropology, especially cultural anthropology, anthropology of religion, and medical and psychological anthropology. Before turning into an anthropologist in his PhD studies at the Heb U, Yehuda studied Jewish philosophy (BA & MA from the Heb U and graduate studies at Harvard), and clinical psychology (MA at the Heb U). Later, he was a post-doc and a visiting scholar at Haifa U and UC Berkeley. Among other journals he published in are American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, Transcultural Psychiatry, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Social Science and Medicine, Sociology of Religion, and Ethos (his paper, co-authored with Yoram Bilu, on using facilitated communication with autistic children won the Society of Psychological Anthropology's Sterling Prize). Together with Yossi Yonah he is editor of Maelstrom of Identities: A Critical Look at Religion and Secularity in Israel (2004, Hebrew). His book (forthcoming 2011) The exile of the Broken Vessels: Haredim in the Shadow of Madness won the Bahat Prize for best Hebrew manuscript.