Traces and spaces: Jews and / in the city of Edinburgh

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This paper explores ‘Jewish Edinburgh’ by connecting historical and memorial discourses of Jewish life in the city and in the memories of its residents, uncovering fragments of early twentieth century spatial, communal and demographic movements. The paper is framed by an intersection of a number of different narratives which ground the analysis of ‘Jewish spaces’ in the Scottish capital. Firstly, the analysis draws heavily on David Daiches’ memoir of his childhood in early twentieth century Edinburgh. Two Worlds: An Edinburgh Jewish Childhood, first published 1956, is a landmark in the memory of the Jewish community in Edinburgh. The paper positions Two Worlds as a lieu de mémoire primarily for Edinburgh’s Jewish community but also for others who associate the Daiches family, and specifically David Daiches with Scotland and Scottish intellectual traditions. The urban geography of Edinburgh emerges from the book as a landscape rich with Jewish memories and the city becomes a locus of relationships between immigrant Jewish and resident non-Jewish Scottish communities. Secondly, the route charted by the walking tour ‘Jewish Edinburgh on Foot’ follows the movement of the Jewish population from the city centre to the Southside and traces demographic, economic, and religious patterns of development across two centuries. An analysis of the ‘Jewish spaces’ identified, visited, inhabited, remembered, and (re-)narrated in Two Worlds and ‘Jewish Edinburgh on Foot’ offers a prism of various perspectives on the Scottish capital. Two Worlds is set in creative tension with ‘Jewish Edinburgh on Foot’, a story that moves across the city and may, in time, become another lieu de mémoire for residents and visitors. Though often complementary, the walking tour offers opportunities for a more gritty engagement with the Jewish history of the city.
Period26 Mar 2018
Event titleBritish Jewish Contemporary Cultures
Event typeConference
LocationUnited KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational