Quotidian 3-1 (February 2012)Megan Raschig: Goeie Ouwe Gabbers: Listening to ‘Jewishness’ in Multicultural Mokum

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This interview-based ethnography focuses on the Yiddish words ‘hidden’ and heard in the Amsterdam Dutch dialect and their everyday salience to certain speakers/listeners in the context of national integration politics. This population of primarily retired, secular or non-Jewish Dutch Amsterdammers pursues deep and sustained engagement with ‘Koosjer Nederlands’ based on feelings of attachment to the social and spatial traces of Amsterdam’s (largely lost) Jewish presence. The relationship between Jews and Amsterdammers in general is seen by them as a positive example of successful integration and is suggested as a model solution for current issues with Muslim groups in the Netherlands. Having the ‘sonic sensibility’ to listen to and recognize these borrowed Yiddish words, which most Dutch speakers already use, is conceptualised as a technology of social subjectivity in the generation of shared, inclusive Amsterdam identity. This research takes seriously the role of sound in these Amsterdammers’ daily lives to reveal an intersubjective layer of individual and civic experience that is both mysterious and mundane, a tangible aspect of what makes Amsterdam ‘Mokum’.