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Price, M. (1994). Commentary on Marc Kaminsky's “Discourse and Self-Formation: The Concept of Mentsh in Modern Yiddish Culture”. Am. J. Psychoanal., 54(4):317-322.

(1994). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 54(4):317-322

Commentary on Marc Kaminsky's “Discourse and Self-Formation: The Concept of Mentsh in Modern Yiddish Culture”

Michelle Price, C.S.W.

Marc Kaminsky has dedicated a major part of his working life to the study of the Yiddish culture, narrative, and psychoanalysis. He has and continues to make some of the most scholarly and incisive contributions to this endeavor. To those of us (this reader included) who join him in this effort, his work stands as testimony to the struggles of many to maintain (them)selves and their dignity in a multicultural world whose discourses and discursive practices define identity and the available knowledges. Kaminsky embraces multiculturalism, multiple selves, signifiers, narratives, and the concordant and complimentary aspects of an individual's life and selves. He “pushes the envelope,” and like most innovators, has received both praise and criticism for that. The following is my reading of his text and his work and stands as a narrative of appreciation for his contributions.

Kaminsky has written an illuminating paper that incorporates various social, psychoanalytic, philosophical, anthropological, and literary disciplines in his discussion of cultural transition, identity, and language. It is encased in a discourse devoted to the migration of Eastern European Jews to America, as well as his own personal/historical narratives. From a postmodern perspective, the linkage of identity construction and culture attempts to further challenge the notion of the “melting pot” in regard to both its wisdom and reality. People are intimately connected to their past, which includes their cultural and family narratives. The American/Western culture's inherent demands for assimilation and homogeneity have contributed to oppression, racism, marginality, sexism, and the reification of individual stories.

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