• Generating Bodies of Knowledge - Food, Family, Fetus in Rabbinic Science

    Rachel Neis (see profile)
    Ancient Jew Review, Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity, Jewish Studies, Late Antiquity, Rabbinic Literature and Culture
    Talmud, Midrash, and Rabbinics, Animal studies, Reproduction theory, Feminist theory, History of science, Science studies, New materialism, Hybridity
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Annual Meeting of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS)
    Conf. Org.:
    Association for Jewish Studies
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    17-19 December 2017
    animal-human, species
    Permanent URL:
    ABSTRACT: How to understand the processes, by which bodies ingest, gestate, generate, excrete, and expel various kinds of substances? This paper treats these questions as sorted through in rabbinic texts. The ways in which we think about how material bodies come into being, and the ways in which we distinguish and explain the emergence, entry, and coming into being of bodies inside of, into, and out of other bodies. Related to such distinctions and explanations, are categories, and then determinations about the destinies of distinctive, newly-generated, or emergent bodies. This article shows how these distinctions about generated bodies and related determinations about their destinies are worked out in both Palestinian rabbinic writings and Greco-Roman philosophical texts of late antiquity. Drawing on feminist anthropology and science studies, as well as feminist new materialisms, means that attention is drawn to the ways that bodies once emergent are placed, interpolated, ingested, consumed, disposed, dismembered, or delivered for life/death. In attending to this combination of determination and destiny, this paper considers not only the curious content of late ancient rabbinic and philosophical conceptions of generation but also attends to the material conditions in which these conceptions were formulated. How was it that the rabbis and philosophers in the Roman empire came to claim and claim creation of such knowledges about generation for themselves? What social-political-material conditions enabled and were upheld by such claims to know bodies of generation? Finally, in full attention to the insights of posthumanist thought, animal studies, and feminist new materialisms: can we account for the ways in which ancient thinkers (rabbis among them) were entangled with and shaped by their fleshy, female, and/or animal " objects " of knowledge?
    This paper was uploaded in advance of the Association for Jewish Studies Annual Meeting of December 2017. It was available to all registrants and participants of the conference. It was briefly presented by the author, responded to by John Mandsager, and then discussed as part of the open seminar, "What did the Rabbis Know," organized by Lennart Lehmhaus.
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    1 year ago
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