Aleksandr Ivanov (European University at Saint Petersburg)
Valery Dymshits (European University at Saint Petersburg)


From 17:00
to 18:30
From 17:00
to 18:30

Course Description
Modern humanities have developed two main concepts of Jewish culture – the “unitary” and the “multiple” one, or to be more precise in the last case, multiple Jewish cultures. However, we suggest that these two concepts might not be that different from each other. On the one hand, partisans of the unitary concept often take into consideration interactions between Jews and non-Jews, but they consider them less important. On the other hand, proponents of a pluralistic hybrid character of Jewish culture agree that practices adopted from neighboring cultures undergo transformation within a specific Jewish context.
As long-term diasporic minorities, Jewries were keen on formulating and preserving their identity/identities notwithstanding the fluidity of Jewish culture/cultures and the blurring of their boundaries. The main source of the so-called core Jewish identity was a religious and in a broader sense, cultural heritage, but this heritage has been changing over the last two centuries: traditional Jewish texts were joined by national history, literature and fine arts, printed books – by museums and exhibitions, pilgrimage – by tourism.
The multi-ethnic and multi-language Jewish community is united by Hebrew as the sacred language and a set of Holy books (Tanakh, Talmud, Rabbinical literature). All Jewish ethnic groups produced such specific linguistic phenomena as their own vernacular and a complex of ritual objects. There was an uninterrupted cultural dialogue between different Jewish communities. Taking into consideration these and many other factors we can describe world Jewry as a special type of civilization.
Our primary task will be to examine and to clarify the complex issues of Jewish identity construction, heritage preservation, and cultural concepts within broad geographical and historical perspectives. A wide variety of episodes from different countries and epochs will merge into a single narrative thanks to implicit similarities between social, cultural and ideological elements.
We shall start with a general overview of the historical evolution of the Jewish diaspora and a brief description of the diversity of Jewish cultures and languages and then discuss the cultural specifics of different Jewish ethnic groups in Europe, Africa, and Asia taking into consideration their material culture, art, language and folklore. Our discussion will be based on twenty-five years of field research of Jewish ethnography and folk art in different regions including Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. We will introduce the concept of a ‘usable past’ within the framework of the global Jewish context. Special attention will be paid to the evolution of a single religious Jewish identity into several modern identities: historical, ethnic, national, political, cultural, etc.
We will analyze the role of Yiddish literature and language as a new resource for constructing a secular identity in the global context tracing the transformation of Yiddish from a low status vernacular into a global language of an international Jewish cultural elite in the early-20th century.
Some unusual cases such as the Jewish boxers in Great Britain in the 18th – 20th centuries and Jewish soldiers in the Finnish army during and after the WWII will be examined to demonstrate how an intangible Jewish heritage served as a source of local and global Jewish identities.
Another important portion of our course will be dedicated to charitable communal institutions and their role in Jewish culture as a development of the Jewish giving tradition into professional philanthropy in Eastern and Western Europe and in the USA in the late-19th – 20th centuries.
We will compare Zionist and Territorialist agricultural colonization projects in Palestine, Argentina, the USA, and Russia in 1900s – 1940s.
We will discuss the importance of material and immaterial Jewish heritage and ways of preserving it, including practices, representations, expressions, skills etc. related to Hebrew and Jewish studies, the creation of Jewish museums and archives in Europe, the USA, and the Soviet Union that can be considered as places of Jewish memory in the 20th century. We will talk about the memorialization of the Holocaust as a part of Jewish cultural heritage and as an integral part of the global heritage of all mankind.
The Klezmer Music Revival will be studied as an important cultural construct (an ‘invented tradition’) specific to 20th century Jewish culture and an integral part of the World Music movement in the late 1970s – 2010s.
Reconstructing the cultural history of Jewry, we will apply different methods and approaches developed by anthropologists, sociologists, historians of institutions, etc. teaching our students how to utilize them for the analysis of cultural interactions in a global perspective.



Part I

Class 1. Diaspora cultures as the special type of culture. Diasporas typologies. Jews as a paradigmatic Diaspora group. The main features of the ethnography of minorities.
- Brubaker, Rogers. "The 'diaspora' diaspora". Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2005.28 (1): 1–19.
Recommended further reading:
- Encyclopedia of Diasp
oras. Immigrant and Refugee Cultures around the World. Ed. Melvin Ember. 2005

Class 2. Who are the Jews? Between religious, social, ethnic and linguistic definitions. The Jewish folk as a special type of civilization.
- Rosman Moshe. Prolegomenon to the Study of Jewish Cultural History // Jewish Studies, an Internet Journal, vol. 1 (2002), pp. 109–127
Recommended further reading:
- Rosman Moshe. How Jewish is Jewish History? Oxford and Portland, Oregon: The Liftman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2007

Class 3. "Jewish" languages as a sociolinguistic category. The main features of Jewish languages. The sociolinguistic situation in the traditional Jewish community. Yiddish as the classical Jewish language.
- Katz, Dovid. Yiddish // The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Recommended further reading:
- Harshav Benjamin, Language in Time of Revolution. Stanford University Press, 1993
- Harshav Benjamin, The Meaning of Yiddish. Stanford University Press, 1999

Class 4. The structure of the Jewish Diaspora. The main directions of the historical migration of the Jews. A list of the main Jewish ethnic groups. The concept of secondary Diaspora. The ethnic structure of the contemporary Jewish Diaspora.
- Gottheil, Richard; Reinach, Théodore DIASPORA Recommended further reading:
- The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures. Ed. by Nadia Valman and Laurence Roth. L.: Routledge, 2014

Class 5. Confessional structure of the Jewish Diaspora. Basic communities and sects. Ashkenazim and Sephardim as religious terms. Hasidism and Mitnagdim. Karaites and Samaritans.
- Stampfer, Shaul. Families, Rabbis and Education. Traditional Jewish Society in Nineteenth-Century Eastern Europe. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2010.
Recommended further reading:
- Neusner, Jacob. A Short History of Judaism. Fortress Press. 1992

Class 6. Jewish ethnic groups in Europe. Ashkenazim and Sephardim in historical, religion, ethnic meaning of terms.
- Hundert Gershon D., Jews in Poland-Lithuania in the Eighteenth Century: A Genealogy of Modernity. University of California Press, 2004.
- Odyssey of the Exiles. The Sephardi Jews 1492 -1992. Ed. Ruth Porter, Sarah Harel-Hoshen. Beth Hatefutsoth. Israel 1992
Recommended further reading:
- Kaplan, Yosef. The Alternative Path of Modernity. The Sephardi Diaspora in Western Europe. Brill, 2000.

Class 7. Jewish ethnic groups of Persia, the Arab countries, Central Asia and India. Mechanisms of ethnogenesis in the Jewish Diaspora. Vanished and emerging ethnic groups. Krymchaks. Bukhara Jews. Mountain Jews. What does it mean "to become a Jew" and "to stop being a Jew"? Cases of the Jewish identity in different groups. Sabbatarians. Jewish ethnicity as a factor in Jewish politics.
- Dymshits, Valery. The Eastern Jewish Communities of the Former USSR // Facing West. Oriental Jews of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Amsterdam: Zwolle, 1998. Pp. 7 – 28.
- Dymshits, Valery. Jews of the Caucasus. Mountain Jews // Facing West. Oriental Jews of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Amsterdam: Zwolle, 1998. Pp. 107 - 109.
Recommended further reading:
- Emelyanenko, Tatjana. Central Asian Jewish Costume // Facing West. Oriental Jews of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Amsterdam: Zwolle, 1998. Pp. 33-61
- Dmitriev, Vladimir. Jews of the Caucasus // Facing West. Oriental Jews of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Amsterdam: Zwolle, 1998. Pp. 75 - 106

Class 8. Seminar on the Ethnic Structure of Jewish Diaspora. Similarities and differences.

Class 9. Traditional Jewish art from all over the world and from all periods. How the concrete religious function interacted with local artistic tradition.
- Amar, Ariella; Jacoby, Ruth. Ingathering of the Nations. Treasures of Jewish Art. Israel. 1998.
Recommended further reading:
- The Center for Jewish Art. Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Class 10. “Jewish time and “Jewish space”. The structure of cultural values. The structure of annual cycles and the life cycle in the different Jewish communities. The perception of the Jews by their “ethnic neighbors”.
- Stern, Sacha. Calendar and Community: A History of the Jewish Calendar 2nd Century BCE to 10th Century CE. Oxford University Press, 2001
- Bartal, Israel. Relations between Jews and Non-Jews. Literary Perspectives // The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.
Recommended further reading:
- Goldberg, Sylvie-Anne. Crossing the Jabbok. Illness and Death in Ashkenazi Judaism in Sixteenth -through Nineteenth -Century Prague. Berkeley -Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1996
- Zborowski Mark, Herzog Elizabeth. Life Is With People: The Culture of the Shtetl. Schocken Books, 1995.

Class 11. Seminar “The image of the Jew as the stranger in world folklore and literature”.

Class 12. Jewish ethnic groups in the modern world. The conflict between ethnic and national identities. Israel and the Diaspora.
- Della Pergola, Sergio. World Jewish Population, 2010. Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), North American Jewish Data Bank, November 2010
Recommended further reading:
- Elazar, Daniel J. The Jewish People as the Classic Diaspora: A Political Analysis

Part II

Class 13. Introductory Lecture. Jewish identities, collective memory, and cultural heritage in the modern era.
- The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures. N. Valman and L. Roth (eds.). Routledge, 2014.
- Chiara Bortolotto, From Objects to Processes: UNESCO'S “Intangible Cultural Heritage”, in Journal of Museum Ethnography, No. 19 (March 2007), pp. 21–33.
Recommended further reading:
- David Biale, Confessions of an Historian of Jewish Culture, in Jewish Social Studies, New Series, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 40–51.
- Helmut K. Anheier, Yudhishthir Raj Isar, Cultures and Globalization. Heritage, Memory and Identity. SAGE Publishing, 2011:

Class 14. Peculiarities of Jewish local identities: the case of the Jewish boxers in Great Britain, 18th – 20th centuries.
- Fighting Back? Jewish and Black Boxers in Britain. M. Berkowitz and R. Ungar (eds.). London: University College, 2007.
Recommended further reading:
- Stephen H. Norwood, "American Jewish Muscle": Forging a New Masculinity in the Streets and in the Ring, 1890–1940, in Modern Judaism, Vol. 29, No. 2 (May, 2009), pp. 167–193.
- Allen Bodner, When Boxing Was a Jewish Sport. New York: Excelsior Editions, 1997.

Class 15. In the service of their native country: the case of Jewish soldiers in the Finnish army during the WWII.
- Tapany Harviainen, The Jews in Finland and World War II, in Nordisk Judaistik. Scandinavian Jewish Studies, Vol. 21 (1–2, 2000), pp. 157—166.
Recommended further reading:
- Hannu Routkallio, “Cast into the Lion’s Den” – Finnish Jewish Soldiers in the Second World War, in Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 29, No. 1 (January, 1994), pp. 53–94.
- Hannu Routkallio, Finland and the Holocaust. The Rescue of Finland’s Jews. New York: Holocauist Library, 1987.

Class 16. Jewish history and culture through the prism of Jewish archives: Jewish Communal Records (Pinkassim, Takkanot ha-Kahal, Genizot) and non-Jewish archives pertaining to Jews (records of Jewish-related legislation in England, Spain, the Kingdom of Poland, Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Russian Empire) in the early modern era.
- Encyclopedia Judaica, in 22 vol., 2nd ed., Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan/Keter, 2007:
Recommended further reading:
- Francis X. Blouin Jr., William G. Rosenberg, Processing the Past: Contesting Authority in History and the Archives. Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Jacob R. Marcus, The Jew in the Medieval World. A Source-book, 315 – 1791. Hebrew Union College, 1981.
- Adina Hoffman, Peter Cole, Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza. New York: Schochen Books, 2011.

Class 17. Jewish archives and the rise of the Jewish historical scholarship in Europe (Germany, France, England), and in the United States, late-19th – 20th century.
- Miriam Viner, Archives, in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. G. D. Hundert (ed.) University, Vol. 1. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2008:
Recommended further reading:
- Alexander Ivanov, Introduction, in Jewish Documentary Sources in Saint Petersburg Archives. A. Ivanov & M. Kupovetsky (eds.). Vol. 1 – Federal Archives. St. Petersburg: “MIR”, 2011, pp. 46–74.
- Avraham Greenbaum, The Beginnings of Jewish Historiography in Russia, in Jewish History, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Spring, 1993), pp. 99–105.

Class 18. Jewish Archives in the time of the Holocaust: looting, destruction, rescue. The Einsatzstab Rosenberg, the NSDAP Institut zur Erforschung die Judenfrage (Institute for Study of the Jewish Question) in Frankfurt, the Ringelblum Archive.
- David Fishman, Securing Our Inheritance: The Fate and State of Jewish Documentary Heritage in Europe. London: Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, 2015.
- Patricia K. Grimsted, Alfred Rosenberg and the ERR: The Records of Plunder and the Fate of the Loot, in IISH Research Paper 47. Published online by the International Institute of Social History (IISH/IISG), Amsterdam (March 2011): Recommended further reading:
- David Fishman, The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis. Lebanon, NH: Fore Edge, 2017.
- The Ringelblum Archive. Warsaw Ghetto. Selected documents. E. Bergman, T. Epsztein eds. Warsaw: The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute, 2000.

Class 19. The Jewish giving tradition as an important cultural asset: the case of Jewish philanthropy in relation to Jewish agricultural colonization projects in Palestine, Argentina and the USA, 1900s – 1920s.
- Yehuda Levin, Labor and land at the start of Jewish settlement in Argentina, in Jewish History, Vol. 21, No. 3/4 (2007), pp. 341–359.
- Uri D. Herscher, Jewish Agricultural Utopias in America, 1880-1910. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.
Recommended further reading:
- Ephraim Frisch, An Historical Survey of Jewish Philanthropy. From the Earliest Times to the Nineteenth Century. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1969.

Class 20. The rise of transnational Jewish philanthropy in 1920s – 1940s and modernization of East European Jewry: the case of the Society for Promotion of Artisan and Agricultural work among Jews (ORT).
- Alexander Ivanov, From a Russian-Jewish Philanthropic Organization to the ‘Glorious Institute of World Jewry’: Activities of the World ORT Union in the 1920s – 1940s, in Russian Jewish Diaspora and European Culture. P. Wagstaff, J. Schulte, O. Tabachnikova (eds.). Leiden & Boston MA: Brill, 2012, pp. 387–416.
Recommended further reading:
- Alexander Ivanov, From Charity to Productive Labor: The World ORT Union and Jewish agricultural colonization in the Soviet Union, 1923 – 38, in East European Jewish Affairs, 2007. Vol. 37. Issue 1, pp. 1–28.
- Alexander Ivanov, Facing East: The World ORT Union and the Jewish Refugee Problem in Europe, 1933–1938, in East European Jewish Affairs, Vol. 39, Issue 3. London, December 2009, pp. 369–388.

Class 21. Preservation of Jewish cultural heritage and creation of Jewish museums in the late-19th – early 20th century (Wien, Prague, St. Petersburg): theories and practices; Jewish contemporary commemorative practices and creation of the Holocaust museums and exhibitions.
- Olga Litvak, Museums and Exhibitions, in The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. G. D. Hundert (ed.) University, Vol. 2. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2008
- Isabel Wollaston, Negotiating the Marketplace: The Role(s) of Holocaust Museums Today, in Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2005), pp. 63–80.
Recommended further reading:
- Jewish Museum Vienna, from A to Z. M. Feurstein-Prasser (ed.). Munich, Belin, Lindon: Prestel, 2006.
- Hana Volavková, A Story of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Prague: Artia, 1968.
- Photographing the Jewish Nation. Pictures from S. An-sky’s Ethnographic Expeditions. U. Avrutin, V. Dymshits, A. Ivanov, A. Lvov, H. Murav, A. Sokolova (eds.). Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University Press & Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 2009.
- Georges Didi-Huberman, Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz. University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Class 22. Representation of the Jewish past in contemporary museums: the case of the exhibition “Family heirlooms and Jewish Memory” in St. Petersburg Museum of the History of Religion, 2011.
- Alla Sokolova, Jewish memory and family heirlooms (based on materials from filed studies in St. Petersburg, 2010 – 2011, in East European Jewish Affairs, Vol. 43, Issue 1, pp. 3–30.
Recommended further reading:
- Ewa Domanska, The material presence of the past, in History and Theory, Vol. 45, No. 3 (2006), pp. 337–348.
- Pierre Nora, Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire, in Representations, No. 26 (1989), pp. 7–24.
- Erving Goffman, Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.

Class 23. Music as cultural bridge: Yiddish music in Soviet Union and its influence over Klezmer revival of 1990s – 2010s.
- Alexander Ivanov, Yiddish Music and Musicology in Petrograd / Leningrad / Saint Petersburg through the Prism of Document Collections in the City Archives, in Three Cities of Yiddish: St. Petersburg, Warsaw and Moscow. G. Estraikh & M. Krutikov, eds. Oxford: Legenda, 2017, рр. 141–157.
Recommended further reading:
- Henry Sapoznik, Klezmer! Jewish Musik from Old World to Our World. Schirmer Trade Books, 2006. - Yale Strom, The Book of Klezmer: The History, The Music, The Folklore. Chicago Review Press, 2011.
- David Moscowitz, Does “Radical Jewish Culture” Produce Radical Jewish Rhetoric? in Studies in American Jewish Literature, Vol. 21, Days of Wonder: Nights of Light (2002), pp. 162-171.

Class 24. Seminar. Jewish tangible and intangible heritage: contemporary theories and practices.

Exam-week. Papers due.


30% -- contribution to the first and second seminars
30% -- contribution to the third seminar
40% -- final paper


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