Jack Kugelmass

I am a cultural anthropologist with a background and continuing interest in critical theory. I’ve done fieldwork in Poland and New York City and have an increasing interest in Israel. I’ve long considered myself an urban anthropologist with a strong connection both to traditional neighborhood ethnography as well as to public culture and the study of museums, festivals and restaurants. I have a love for ethnography, writing and photography and enjoy teaching all three. In recent years I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the anthropology of travel. Some of my research in this area involves participation observation, but I find myself increasingly drawn to the study of travel books. My current project looks at Yiddish travel books over a fifty year period between the First World War until the 1960s. Although there are a number of interesting theoretical foci to the essays in this study, the fact is that I like narrative and am drawn to these books in part because of that, and I try to use translation to communicate to readers the narrative strengths of this minor literary genre. The anthropology in these essays is to analyze the social and political issues that underlie the narratives, to see how a group uses the imaginary realm of elsewhere to think through its own predicament especially when its present and future are precarious and home and citizenship are increasingly contested.