Reflections: Amanda Berman on a Pair of Decorative Groups
Getty Art + Ideas
We’ve asked members of the Getty community to share short reflections on works of art they’re thinking about right now. These recordings feature stories related to our daily lives. This week, Amanda Berman considers how studying a set of eighteenth-century French porcelain sculptures reveals hidden racism and what that might mean for us today. To learn more about this artwork, visit: https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/5617. Over the next few weeks, look for new recordings every other Tuesday. Transcript JAMES CUNO: Hi, I’m Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. In a new podcast feature, we’re asking members of the Getty community to share short reflections on works of art they’re thinking about right now. We’ll be releasing new recordings every other Tuesday. I hope you’ll find these stories about our daily lives—from laundry on the line to a dog at a scholar’s feet—thought provoking, illuminating, and entertaining. AMANDA BERMAN: I’m Amanda Berman, and I’m a curator of sculpture and decorative arts. While following news on the pandemic, I’ve been struck by stories of the targeted harassment of Chinese people and the boycotts and vandalization of Chinese-owned businesses. Many of my friends have reacted with shock and outrage, asking, “How could this happen here?” This question got me thinking about the subtle, less obvious forms of racism that foster and support the overtly racist behavior. And it reminded me of these “decorative groups” in the Getty’s collection. They were constructed in the mid-1700s in France. I say constructed because they’re made up of different elements that did not start off life together. Each one is a combination of a few Chinese porcelain objects made after the mid-1600s—figures of boys wearing Qing dynasty tunics and trousers, rocks, spheres, and lions. These porcelain items were imported to France, where a bronze caster combined them on gilt-bronze bases and added French porcelain flowers. So, the result is this invented thing which uses Chinese elements to create a European decorative item. They’re beautiful pieces, but knowing how they were made makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s clear the European craftsman didn’t understand the cultural origins of the original porcelain pieces, and they had no problem with decontextualizing these objects to turn them into something that played on stereotypes. These decorative groups fit into a larger category of art from this time that featured Asian-inspired themes, to put it generously. There were furnishings and other objects that used Chinese materials in the construction of a European-designed piece, like these objects. And then there were objects created entirely in Europe, with European materials, made to look vaguely Asian or decorated with stereotypically Asian imagery like pagodas and people in kimonos. European craftspeople drew on styles from Persia to Japan, mixing and matching to create designs that seem strange and culturally insensitive today. Racist ideas about Asian people weren’t new in 18th century Europe. But increasing trade with Asia brought about a new fascination with Asian cultures and a rise in this Asian-inspired decorative style. This created and reinforced the idea of Asians as “other”—people who were not mainstream or didn’t fully belong. Exoticizing cultures, conflating them, and disregarding their distinct histories stereotypes and dehumanizes people from those cultures. So I’ve been thinking about how these 18th century French objects relate to the question of how anti-Chinese racism can happen here. This obsession with Asian aesthetics, seen in this pair, is akin to cultural appropriation now. And I see a similar subtle racism in the model minority myth—another example of how Asians in America are considered not fully American, regardless of how many generations have lived here. Not to mention the long history of specifically anti-Chinese racism in US immigration laws. Subtle racism can hide behind the idea of “cultural appreciation,” but in reality, this creates an atmosphere that supports and encourages acts of overt racism. That’s why it can be just as damaging as racist vandalism or racial slurs. This decorative pair reminds me of the continuous presence of these more hidden forms of racism. That’s why it’s important to study these artworks and understand their contexts, not just appreciate them aesthetically. CUNO: To view this porcelain Pair of Decorative Groups, composed in France about 1740-1745 from pieces dating from about 1662–1740, click the link in this episode’s description or look for it on getty.edu/art/collections.
Amanda Berman on Numbers 27:1 -- "The Biblical Origins of the Zioness" - S1E14
The Rabbi's Husband
Amanda Berman joins Mark today for a dynamic conversation regarding Numbers 27:1 and its profound significance throughout the centuries. Amanda is the Founder and Executive Director of the ‘Zioness Movement’, an initiative which empowers and activates Zionists on the progressive left to stand proudly in social justice spaces as Jews and Zionists. She has been a civil rights attorney fighting anti-Semitism legally, spearheading such groundbreaking initiatives as the international action against Kuwait Airways for its discrimination against Israeli nationals, and the dual cases against San Francisco State University for its constitutional and civil rights violations against Jewish and Israeli students and community members. As you will discover, Amanda is a highly intelligent, articulate, and passionate speaker whose commitment to the advancement and protection of the Jewish people and the Zionist community shines forth brilliantly during today’s discussion.Amanda begins this discussion by summarizing the story, looking at the significance of the daughters’ names within the story, and explaining the two powerful reasons why they bring their complaint to the leadership. She and Mark then analyze the daughters’ argument and discuss the logic of equality that is introduced during the story as well as the models of progressive change which are learned from it. They finish by noting the importance of significant incremental change both within this story and, indeed, throughout history, and Amanda shares the lessons about mankind which she has learned through her life and work. Today’s story is one of historic social transformation whose impact reverberates through society still today, providing yet another powerful example of the timeless value and wisdom of the Torah.Episode Highlights:Amanda’s summary of the story The significance of the daughters’ names The two powerful reasons why they bring a complaint to the leadership An analysis of their argument Establishing the logic of equality The models of progressive change learned from this story Significant incremental change The lessons about mankind that Amanda has learnedQuotes:“They want to be part of the Zionist story. They’re women who believe that they should have the same rights as men as the Jews were settling in the land of Israel.”“I think they also believed that even if they lived in a patriarchal society…I think that they believed that God wouldn’t see it that way, that God would say that women are equal.”“If justice is to be served, we have to be able to inherit. We have to be able to pass on our father’s tradition.”“God…unambiguously rules in favor of the five daughters.”“This just might be the greatest single leap forward in a moment that has ever occurred in progressive thought.”“They had the courage and they were welcome litigants before the bench.”“I found myself, you know, less involved in the domestic issues that I cared about and I realized that it was because of this new manifestation of the anti-Semitism that existed there.”“Making people aware that you can be both a social justice activist…and you can be a proud Zionist…that is a groundbreaking thing for some people.”Numbers 27:1 The daughters of Zelophehad, of Manassite family—son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph—came forward. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.27.1?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=enLinks:The Zioness homepage: _https://zioness.org/The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: http://therabbishusband.com/Mark’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/markgerson?lang=en
Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, President & Dean of Valley Beit Midrash, interviews Amanda Berman, the Founder and Executive Director of the Zioness Movement (https://zioness.org/), on the topic of "Progressive & Zionist?"DONATE: http://www.bit.ly/1NmpbsPFor podcasts of VBM lectures, GO HERE:https://www.valleybeitmidrash.org/learning-library https://www.facebook.com/valleybeitmidrash
Fighting anti-Zionism in progressive spaces.Amanda Berman is the Founder and Executive Director of the Zioness Movement, a new initiative empowering and activating Zionists on the progressive left to stand proudly in social justice spaces as Jews and Zionists. Until she recently made the transition to focusing exclusively on building the much-needed Zioness community, Amanda was also a civil rights attorney fighting anti-Semitism legally, spearheading such groundbreaking initiatives as the international action against Kuwait Airways for its discrimination against Israeli nationals, and the dual cases against San Francisco State University for its constitutional and civil rights violations against Jewish and Israeli students and community members. Amanda writes on Jewish and civil rights issues and is a media contributor across various mediums and outlets. She has spoken and presented before diverse audiences including Hadassah, JNF, B'nei Brith, Jewish Federation, AIPAC, JCRC, Hillel, and many others. She is a graduate of the Anti-Defamation League's Glass Leadership Institute, the recipient of Hadassah's prestigious Myrtle Wreath Award, and was listed by the Algemeiner as one of the top "100 people positively contributing to Jewish life" in 2018. She previously served for 5 years as an Executive Board Member at Friends of the IDF, Young Leadership NY. Amanda graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Diplomatic History and a Master of Governmental Administration and received her Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she was a Public Service Scholar; served in the Bet Tzedek Legal Services Clinic, providing legal services to the underrepresented; served in the Advanced Human Rights Clinic, providing legal services to immigrants and refugees; sat on the Executive Board of the Cardozo Advocates for Battered Women; and was a Fellow in the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Clinic. She practiced securities litigation at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP before dedicating her career to the advancement and protection of the Jewish people and the Zionist community.
Why the 'Why' Matters: Judge Alex Calabrese and Amanda Berman
The Honorable Alex Calabrese has been the Presiding Judge of the Red Hook Community Justice Centre in Brooklyn, New York, for almost 20 years. His court is designed to produce more meaningful and holistic case resolutions and he has been awarded multiple times for his outstanding work. Amanda Berman was a public defender in the Bronx in New York City before joining Red Hook Community Justice Centre as project director. This essay is read by the actor George Bryan. https://www.courtinnovation.org/programs/red-hook-community-justice-center
Zioness Founder Amanda Berman on Defending Israel in Progressive Spaces
The B'nai B'rith Int'l Podcast
Often in politically progressive spaces, Zionists are asked to leave their pro-Israel politics at the door, or else face exclusion and be branded as racists. Amanda Berman, the founder and executive director of the Zioness Movement, is aiming to address this problem by empowering and activating Zionists on the progressive left to stand proudly in social justice spaces as Jews and Zionists. In this episode, our podcast host and B'nai B'rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin talks with Berman about the work of the Zioness Movement and the main challenges ahead for her organization. Until she recently made the transition to focusing exclusively on building the much-needed Zioness community, Berman was also a civil rights attorney fighting anti-Semitism legally, spearheading such groundbreaking initiatives as the international action against Kuwait Airways for its discrimination against Israeli nationals, and the dual cases against San Francisco State University for its constitutional and civil rights violations against Jewish and Israeli students and community members. Berman writes on Jewish and civil rights issues and is a media contributor across various mediums and outlets. She has spoken and presented before diverse audiences including Hadassah, JNF, B'nai Brith, Jewish Federation, AIPAC, JCRC, Hillel and many others.
EPISODE 21: Amanda Berman, Zioness Co-Founder on Loving Israel AND Progressive/Feminist Movements
When you love Israel, must you check your Zionism at the door to be part of the progressive and feminist movements? Amanda Berman, founder of Zioness says, "hell no." Hear Amanda discuss her group, anti-Semitism among the leadership of the Women's March, the upcoming March for Our Lives on March 24 and more on this fascinating, funny, and fast-moving podcast.
Amanda Berman co-founded the Zioness Movement after one of the leaders of the 2017 Women’s March claimed that Zionists could not be both feminist and progressive. Amanda refused to accept the idea that Zionists had no seats at the table, so she created Zioness, a grassroots feminist group of social justice activists. Hear Amanda in our joint podcast with israel360 discuss why maintaining Zionist and progressive identities is completely compatible, the recent controversy about Louis Farrakhan and anti-Semitic sentiments in the Women’s March leadership, liberal Zionism in the age of Donald Trump, and how to get involved with Zioness for the March For Our Lives in Boston and around the country on March 24.Learn more: https://www.zioness.org https://marchforourlives.com