Colonialism and the Jews

Colonialism and the Jews

Colonialism and the Jews

Colonialism and the Jews


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.


Ethan B. Katz, Lisa Moses Leff, and Maud S. Mandel

Where are jews in colonial history? Where is colonialism in Jewish history? in many ways, these unasked questions haunt contemporary Jewish and often world politics. Indeed, in the twenty-first century, the relationship between Jews and colonialism has been present in debates about not only Zionism but Jewish– Muslim relations, the wider Middle East, the future of European identity, and the aims and roots of American empire. and yet, typically, the subject of Jews and colonialism is hidden in plain sight, more polemicized or avoided than probed, let alone illuminated. If statesmen, activists, and pundits have difficulty addressing colonialism and the Jews, they are not alone. Until recently, scholars have offered little help.

Indeed, despite the recent outpouring of fruitful scholarly attention to modern colonialism, Jewish historians have been surprisingly reticent to explore the complex ways in which Jews interacted with nineteenth- and twentieth-century overseas empires. Prior to the early 2000s, most historiholars of Jewish history were particularly resistant or late coming to many of the methodological developments that proved crucial to the so-called Imperial Turn. These included critiques of positivism and empiricism; attention to metanarrative and the subjectivity of archival sources; and an emphasis on language, reflecting the influence of Foucauldian ideas about the nexus of knowledge and power.

Undoubtedly, the greatest elephant in the room has been Zionism. During the very period in which postcolonial studies emerged, debates raged over the . . .

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