‘Remembering Spring through Gorbals Voices’: Autobiography and the Memory of a Community

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Abstract

This study deals with the experience of the Scottish Jewish community in the Gorbals district of Glasgow during the inter-war period through the prism of autobiography. There are a number of published autobiographical accounts of this community, which provide an insight into many aspects of its life. Taken together, these works provide a variety of perspectives on the life of the district. This article will consider these autobiographies from several angles. It will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of autobiographies as an historical source, as well as considering what these autobiographies tell us about life within the Gorbals in this period, particularly in relation to differences between the first and second generation of Jewish migrants to Glasgow, and attitudes towards religion and politics. In addition, the notion of ‘community’ in general needs to be considered critically, and the extent to which the Gorbals formed a coherent community also needs to be questioned. It will be argued that the Gorbals was a community according to the definition offered by Robert Redfield, in that it was distinctive, small and self-sufficient (inasmuch as it provided for all of the needs of the people within it, and was thus a ‘cradle-to-the-grave arrangement’).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
JournalImmigrants and Minorities
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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