Researching vernacular Judaism: reflections on theory and method

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Ruth Illman
Publisher: Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History
Publication year: 2019
Journal: Nordisk judaistik
Volume number: 30
Issue number: 1
Start page: 91
End page: 108
eISSN: 2343-4929


This article presents the ethnographically driven multi-method research perspective of vernacular religion and analyses its potential to contribute to the theoretical advancement of Jewish studies. The ongoing discussion on religion and change within the study of religions in gen­eral and Jewish studies in particular is outlined and structured around three ‘turns’ identified in the re­search on vernacular religiosity. To exemplify these theoretical and methodological considerations, a recently initiated research project focusing on vernacular Judaism in Finland is presented. This project seeks to examine central ideas of boundaries as they are negotiated and interpreted among Finnish Jewry, to compare the emerging patterns with Nordic counterparts and thus contribute to a more nuanced perception of Jewish identities in these contexts. The article concludes with a discussion on the advances of such an approach, pointing to the relative novelty of research into vernacular religion within Jewish studies and the exceptionality of the Finnish Jewish context.


Jewish Studies, Judaism, Religion in Finland, vernacular religion


Last updated on 2020-25-09 at 06:02