Tiraana Bains, Yale Undergraduate Student
It is the purpose of this project to recover and record the voices of Iranian Jews who have witnessed and experienced the transitions from Pahlavi rule and finally the transformations heralded by the Islamic Revolution. The imperative to collect these testimonies is more urgent than ever given that far too few individuals remain who can recall the early Pahlavi years and so offer a longer vision of the evolving experience of Jewish life in modern Iran. Yet this project does not only seek to preserve the veracity of the historical record and the multiplicity of the Jewish experience but also create a resource to facilitate informed debate about the questions that continue to dominate headlines and foreign policy memos. This audiovisual archive will stand at the nexus of several ongoing political and historical discussions: the state of minorities and human rights in Iran today, the changing face of anti-Semitism across the globe, and American policy towards Iran. I hope that this grant will provide the financial assistance necessary to perform and complete preliminary research as well as embark on the production of a number of interviews that could serve as the basis for future funding and the long-term sustainability of this project.
Kate Brackney, Yale Graduate Student in History
My dissertation research is on images of the sky in archives of the Holocaust and their relation to changing conceptions of the sublime in the modern period. Hayden White has famously called the Holocaust the paradigmatic modernist event: Its unprecedented horror, he argues, has rendered “traditional techniques of narration…unusable—except in parody.” Yet the poetic trope of the sky—a most ancient image in Western literature and art—persists in many pieces of writing, visual art, and even oral testimony about the Holocaust, performing an enormous range of representational work. How can we interpret these sources in a way that acknowledges their aesthetic power and representational legitimacy—but also takes into account the set of problems they present to politics and history? Beyond the ironist’s contained despair, the kitsch of the tragedian, and the minimalist interpretation of facts that is the purview of the disciplined historian, is there a framework for representing the Holocaust—and how have images of the sky provided that framework for various artists, victims, and survivors? These are some of the major questions I will explore in the coming year through immersion in archives across Europe, the United States, and Israel.
Kati Curts, Yale Graduate Student in American Religious History
My dissertation, “Assembling Fords: A Harrowing History of Religion in the Automobile Age,” is a cultural and religious history of Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company. As the “Businessman of the Century” and the “Mussolini of Highland Park,” Henry Ford has frequently served as a larger than life character in American history, capable of originary creativity and immanent destruction. A volatile mix of populism and progressivism, he was the impetus behind the Model-T as “the people’s car” while also gaining a reputation for union busting as the “Flivver King.” Ford at once implemented a “living wage” for his factory workers yet also garnered much ill repute from the notoriously antisemitic writings in his newspaper, The Dearborn Independent. Rather than approach Ford as exceptionally charismatic genius, hero or villain, of historical fame and fortune, this project instead engages Ford—the man, the brand, the icon, the industry—as an analytic pivot and organizing power broker around which to interrogate the tangled historical relations of religion, race, technology, culture, and industry in the early twentieth century. The Jeannette M. and Salo W. Baron Student Research Grant will help make possible significant archival research for this dissertation on both the east coast and in Michigan, where I will examine the religious writings, industrial initiatives, business management techniques, advertising practices, educational materials, and material culture produced by Ford. Pairing these documents with narratives of American religious history and categories central to religious studies, I historicize the religious, and often overtly Christian, idioms Ford has so frequently inspired, putting them into broader conversation with the narrative plots, comparative tropes, and cultural forms central to American religious history and religious studies.
Lauren Gottlieb, Yale Graduate Student in History
Lauren Gottlieb will be visiting several archives in Israel and France to conduct research on her dissertation, From Antisemitism to Zionism: Bernard Lazare, France, and the Jewish Question. Bernard Lazare, a French-Jewish intellectual known for his early defense of the wrongly accused Captain Alfred Dreyfus in late nineteenth century France, wrote extensively on the subject of antisemitism and became involved in the Zionist movement alongside Max Nordau and Theodor Herzl. Lazare’s concept of Zionism was richly informed by his experience of French antisemitism and ultimately differed fundamentally from that expressed by his central European colleagues in the Zionist Congress. How Lazare conceived of Jewish nationalism as it related to the competing claims of homeland and diaspora, and how these ideas have impacted Zionism today are key questions underpinning this research, made possible by the Jeannette M. and Salo W. Baron Student Research Grant.
Sarah Ifft, Yale Graduate Student in History
My dissertation project, “Jewish and Christian Women and Family Finances in Medieval Catalonia, 1250-1350,” will explore how Jewish and Christian women participated in managing family finances. I am especially interested in how women’s relationship to financial resources was conditioned by systems of kinship, and whether Catalan Jewish communities developed either distinctive types of kinship networks, or particularly Jewish ideas about women’s financial role within those networks. Using the individual transactions recorded in notarial registers from the cities of Barcelona, Girona, and Vic, I can determine what Jewish and Christian women’s economic involvement looked like on a more quotidian level, rather than at unique moments in their lives. In my work, I hope to challenge assumptions of medieval Jewish difference, particularly in the spheres of family and finance, and consider whether Jewish and Christian women participated in a shared financial culture in medieval Catalonia.
Samuel Loncar, Yale Graduate Student in Religious Studies
Schleiermacher, Anti-Judaism, and the Foundations of Protestant Liberalism
My project explores the influence of Marcionism, an anti-Jewish heresy, in the theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher. As the father of modern liberal theology, Schleiermacher is easily the most important and influential Christian theologian since the Enlightenment. What has been largely ignored in the scholarly literature is that Schleiermacher is also the first major Christian theologian to incorporate core aspects of Marcion’s theology, including the elimination of the Old Testament from the Christian canon, and the concomitant denial of the Jewishness of Jesus and the importance of Judaism for Christianity. After exploring the Marcionist elements in Schleiermacher’s thought, I briefly trace the power of this idea in two representative and influential historical theologians, Ferdinand Christian Baur and Adolf von Harnack, showing that Schleiermacher’s Marcionism characterizes the liberal theological tradition. This means that the most influential form of modern Protestant theology is radically anti-Jewish, a fact which has not received sufficient attention, but which should cast light on the trajectory of Christian thought during the Third Reich.
Michael Rom, Yale Graduate Student in History
My dissertation research will examine the national and diasporic identities that Brazilian Jewish immigrants constructed from the onset of Jewish mass migration from Eastern Europe to Brazil in the mid 1920s until the mid 1970s. In addition to using nationalist tropes to express Brazilian national identities, Jewish immigrants such as Vojtech Winterson actively reformulated these national identities in response to events such as military coups, political ideologies such as Zionism, liberalism and socialism, and through transnational forums such as correspondence with international Jewish organizations. By exploring Brazilian Jewish cultural production such as newspapers, literature and correspondence with international Jewish aid and advocacy organizations and Israeli diplomats, I will demonstrate the importance of transnational actors, political ideologies and events in Brazil and throughout the Jewish world in shaping these constructions. At a time when Brazilians of all classes and ethnic backgrounds were actively redefining Brazilian national identities and reacting to dramatic economic and political changes in their society, and Jews around the world were responding to the impacts of mass migration, the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel, Brazilian Jews confronted these multiple events by attempting to fashion national and transnational identities that asserted their simultaneous belonging to Brazilian society and the Jewish diaspora.
Anne Ruderman, Yale Graduate Student in History
“Nelle mani fraudolenti dei Ebrey”: An Anti-Jewish Twist in the Venetian Bead Trade
With the generous support of a Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Research Grant, I will further explore the anti-Jewish element that surfaced in negotiations between the Republic of Venice and the Liverpool Company over Venetian beads for the transatlantic slave trade. In the 1760s, the Liverpool Company, a partnership of leading Liverpool slave-ship outfitters, entered into a series of negotiations with the Republic of Venice in an attempt to procure beads that would satisfy the tastes of their African consumers. While these negotiations centered upon questions of quality, price and Venetian productive efficiency, both parties repeatedly expressed a desire to keep beads out of the heads of Jewish intermediaries, ostensibly to maintain quality standards. This surprising element of late eighteenth-century slave-trade supply negotiations points to the ambiguous place of Jewish merchants in both British and Venetian society. Instead of considering Jewish international networks as an economic lever, both parties considered Jewish merchants as a threat to their national and economic interests. More broadly, the anti-Jewish element of the Venetian bead trade challenges the idea that economic rationalism trumped religious prejudice in the late eighteenth century.
I will take a one-week exploratory trip to the Archivio di Stato in Florence to examine the Libri di commercio e di famiglia. I will also spend two weeks in New Haven to transcribe and translate documents that I photographed in the Archivio di Stato in Venice last fall. In Florence I am searching for evidence of Jewish intermediaries in the bead trade from Venice to Livorno and for evidence of any Jewish agents for the Livorno-based firm Earle and Hodgson, which traded in beads and coral between Livorno and Liverpool. In New Haven, I will be transcribing and translating documents primarily from the Senato Deliberazioni Rettori, Censori and Cinque Savi alla Mercanzia files. The research from this project will become part of my final dissertation chapter, “Venetian Beads for the Atlantic Slave Trade.”
Leah Salovey, Yale Undergraduate Student
This summer I will be researching American perceptions of the Holocaust. It is clear that the Holocaust plays a large role in the communal memory and cultural identity of American Jews, but how does it affect Americans who have no direct affiliations to Jewish communities? I am interested in assessing how much the average American knows about Holocaust history, how they first found out about the Holocaust (at home, in school, etc), whether or not they feel that the Holocaust has any relevance to their lives, and whether or not they feel that the US places too much emphasis exclusively on Holocaust education and memorial. I will collect this information while I am working as an intern at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum this summer, where one of my tasks will be to survey visitors to the Washington Mall for the future Americans and the Holocaust exhibition. I hope to use these brief interviews as an opportunity to examine American opinions on the importance of continuing to study and memorialize the Holocaust as the event itself becomes more and more distant.
Sara Silverstein, Yale Graduate Student in History
My project examines the work of transnational health professionals in the provision of services for refugees and other minority groups similarly excluded from civil rights within the European nation-state based international order of the mid-twentieth century. I focus on the medical, political, and intellectual contributions of doctors who themselves experienced displacement from their native states and discrimination as a minority. Their projects produced national and international public health services that evolved symbiotically, outside standard political channels. Moving beyond traditional welfare services, they redefined the meaning of individual and collective rights to physical and social wellbeing within the state and international community. Having worked to transform these rights in the interwar order, they again revised their theories and projects after the Second World War negated many of their earlier conclusions. In the postwar years, the resulting contributions to rehabilitation projects in both war-devastated countries and among displaced persons became the underpinnings of emerging European and international institutions. The Salo W. and Jeanette M. Baron Research Grant will support archival work in Warsaw at the Jewish Historical Institute, the Central Archive of Modern Records, and the Institute of National Remembrance. In these collections, I will study the Jewish doctors who were prominent in shaping this transnational health community in both the interwar and the postwar years. As they physically and mentally rehabilitated Holocaust survivors, they put in practice their own evolving definition of human and social rights and worked to make it part of the postwar political order. While they acted in response to the Holocaust, they developed their ideas from interwar training and experiences that coupled antisemitism with the emergence of nation-states. My project therefore begins in the interwar years and examines how these doctors’ dual experience working within the Jewish community and within the state system influenced their approach to international healthcare and to the rehabilitation of survivors in postwar Europe.
Shlomo Zuckier, Yale Graduate Student in Religious Studies
This research project will explore one aspect of Jew-hatred in the ancient world, studying Rabbinic descriptions of the destroyers of the two Temples that stood in Jerusalem and were destroyed in 586 BCE and 70 CE. Rabbinic literature offers several depictions of each of these traumatic events, describing both what transpired and the various antagonists who brought about the destruction, presenting Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, Vespasian, and Nero as central characters. What led these leaders and generals to destroy the Jewish temples, in the Rabbinic view? These figures are understood in a variety of ways: some accounts depict the leader as simply advancing the interests of his home country and attacking Israel for reasons of expedience. On alternative accounts, Israel is targeted because of some reputed unique aspect of Jewish existence, whether the contents of the Temple or the renowned status of the Jewish nation. Yet other texts represent these leaders as evil, attributing to these sovereigns and generals a base hatred of the Jewish people. This study will closely analyze the relevant texts and offer a comparative analysis of the depictions of the various figures. Through this examination I hope to arrive at a wide tapestry of perspectives within Jewish tradition of how the ultimate Other – the destroyers of the temples – have been viewed in Rabbinic memory.
Carolyn J. Dean, Professor of History
Carolyn is a cultural and intellectual historian of modern Europe with a focus on the twentieth century. She is the author of five books, most recently Aversion and Erasure: The Fate of the Victim after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2010) and The Fragility of Empathy after the Holocaust (Cornell, 2004). She is also the author of work on gender and sexuality, focusing on France in particular. She is currently working on a research project concerning the evolution of the concept of “bearing witness” to suffering since the Second World War and its impact on the creation of global humanity.
She held the John Hay Professor of International Studies at Brown University, where she taught before coming to Yale in 2013. She has been the recipient of several fellowships, including a Guggenheim and an ACLS, and was awarded Professor of the Year in 1996 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for the Advancement of Support of Education.