Colo­nial­ism and the Jews

Ethan B Katz, Lisa Moses Leff, Maud S. Man­del (edi­tors)

January 1, 2013

The live­ly essays col­lect­ed here explore colo­nial his­to­ry, cul­ture, and thought as it inter­sects with Jew­ish stud­ies. Con­nect­ing the Jew­ish expe­ri­ence with colo­nial­ism to mobil­i­ty and exchange, dias­po­ra, inter­na­tion­al­ism, racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, and Zion­ism, the vol­ume presents the work of Jew­ish his­to­ri­ans who rec­og­nize the chal­lenge that colo­nial­ism brings to their work and sheds light on the diverse top­ics that reflect the myr­i­ad ways that Jews engaged with empire in mod­ern times. Tak­en togeth­er, these essays reveal the inter­pre­tive pow­er of the Impe­r­i­al Turn” and present a rethink­ing of the his­to­ry of Jews in colo­nial soci­eties in light of post­colo­nial cri­tiques and desta­bi­lized cat­e­gories of analy­sis. A provoca­tive dis­cus­sion forum about Zion­ism as colo­nial­ism is also included.

Discussion Questions

Colo­nial­ism and the Jews revis­its the com­plex­i­ties of the Jew­ish posi­tion in for­eign empires dur­ing the Impe­r­i­al Turn. For much of mod­ern his­to­ry, schol­ars have avoid­ed the top­ic for a vari­ety of rea­sons explored in this anthol­o­gy. Rather than avoid the com­pli­cat­ed rela­tion­ship between Jews and nine­teenth- and twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry Euro­pean empires, this essay col­lec­tion con­fronts the real­i­ties, call­ing par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to France and its vast empire. It posits that France is of such inter­est due to its his­tor­i­cal role regard­ing eman­ci­pa­tion and its para­dox­es of inclu­sion and exclu­sion.” The third sec­tion of this book focus­es on Zion­ism and colo­nial­ism. No con­tem­po­rary book on colo­nial­ism would have rel­e­vance with­out a deep exam­i­na­tion of Zion­ism, as it has become a polar­iz­ing top­ic, both with­in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty as well as inter­faith dia­logue. This vol­ume explores top­ics through a new par­a­digm, bring­ing a fresh under­stand­ing of his­to­ry and its impli­ca­tions on mod­ern Jew­ish life.