Talk / Discussion with Caspar Battegay (Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Basel) and Daniel Kahn (Musician, USA/Berlin)
Daniel Kahn, born and raised in Detroit, is a singer, musician, actor, director, composer, and story-teller, and founder of the band Daniel Kahn & The Painted Birds. After studying theater studies and music, he lived and worked in New Orleans, Detroit, New York, and Ann Arbor, making a name for himself as a nightclub pianist, at bluegrass jams and punk circus parades, as well as with directing and acting. Kahn today lives and works in Berlin.
In Daniel Kahn’s universe one can find references to the American folk tradition, to Klezmer, Yiddish workers’ songs, the German Romantic period, Brecht/Weill, and on and on… One of the centers of this diverse network is his dealing with Jewish identity, characterized by catchwords such as the ongoing memory of the Holocaust, Zionism and post-Zionism, Diaspora, and exile. But the great advantage of Kahn’s songs is that they are fun to listen to.
Caspar Battegay is working as a scientific assistant the Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Basel. He studied German Philology, Philosophy and Jewish Studies in Basel and graduated with a PhD on german-jewish literature. In his essay Judentum und Popkultur (Judaism and Popular Culture, Bielefeld, 2012) he is dealing with the representation of the Jewish in popular culture – focussing on the prospects it gives on an ingenuous dealing with this cultural identity.