James Adam Redfield is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Talmudic Literatures in the Department of Theological Studies, Fellow of the Research Institute at Saint Louis University, Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Humboldt Fellow at the Institut für jüdische Theologie. He works at the intersection of rabbinic literature, anthropology, and the history of ethnography. James also publishes translations of Jewish literature and thought (from Aramaic, French, German, Hebrew, and Yiddish). His latest translation, with his introduction and notes and a preface by Avner Holtzman, is From a Distant Relation (Syracuse, 2021) by the Ashkenazi intellectual Mikhah Yosef Berdichevsky (1865-1921).
Diaspora might be a problem for political progressives for the very reason that it is so alluring. Diaspora promises both freedom and connection: freedom from national borders or the essentialisms of race and language, connection between people who affirm shared memory and heritage.
But heritage is never really free.