Justin Jin, Undergraduate Student in History
This summer, I will be traveling around Europe, documenting and researching the historical memory of the Holocaust and how it’s changing across Europe. While retellings of such a hideous crime, and the undeniable involvement of quite a few “fathers of their nation” in such crimes, will inevitably be distorted by national histories, recent years have seen an upswing in histories that fundamentally distort entire history of the Holocaust. In Poland, legislation has made the phrase “Polish Death Camps” illegal, erasing the hard truth that some Poles did collaborate in the Final Solution. In Croatia, the culture minister has praised the fascist Ustase, who oversaw the killings at the regimes death camp at Jasenovac. And yet the European Union’s response has been muted, limited as much by lack of comprehensive information as by lack of political will. With a combination of ground level impressions and discussions with as high-level policy makers, historians, and commentators as I can reach, I hope to help make clear the nature and extent of the revisionist wave in Europe and create a framework to identify and understand the rising tide in the United States.
Rachel Kaufman, Undergraduate Student in History
I am interested both in the history of conversos and crypto-Jews in New Mexico during the American colonial period and the ways in which America has remembered and memorialized this history. I aim to explore the ways in which this process of remembering, as well as the history of crypto-Jews living in Spanish colonies in the aftermath of the Inquisition, are infiltrated by antisemitism. I have spent much of my time at Yale studying the intersections of literature, poetry, history, and memory studies. This research will be a continued exploration of the blurred lines between these fields, using literary sources as a means to uncovering and analyzing memory in America of Spanish conversos.
Karolina Kolpak, Graduate Student in History
The aim of my dissertation project, “Janusz Korczak: Between and Beyond Identities”, is to examine the network of institutions, organizations, people, and venues through which Janusz Korczak (Henryk Goldszmit) sought to make his impact as a social activist, pedagogue, physician, and intellectual in interwar Poland. It is also to analyze the limits and restrictions placed on his work by authorities and their increasingly anti-Semitic motivations, particularly in the 1930s. My goal is to look at the sites of Korczak’s activity – his orphanages, radio broadcasts, books for children, personal writings, his milieu and their common projects – and treat them as both spaces where Polish-Jewish relations were taking place and were negotiated, as well as where Korczak’s humanist worldview became the driving force in the attempt to transcend Polish-Jewish antagonisms, stereotypes, etc. Thus, as sites rooted in the socio-economic and political conditions of interwar Poland, they can tell us a lot about the various complexities of Polish-Jewish relations as well as about how they were thought about and addressed in the world of Janusz Korczak, one which sought to push back against the seemingly irreconcilable nationalist solutions of the time.
David Labastida, Graduate Student in European & Russian Studies
My Project will examine the collective mentality of the society in the town of Weimar during the Nazi era. I am interested in analyzing how Weimar´s population understood and reacted towards the persecution and annihilation of the Jews at a local level. This project intends to examine the extent to which the Nazi ideology penetrated the collective mentality of the town. Thus, I want to examine what elements of this Nazi ideology merged in Weimar´s historical and cultural mentality, thereby giving birth to a local version of Nazi ideology. I will attempt to demonstrate that a radical sort of Nazified, Christian anti-Semitism created local fantasies and narratives that justified the persecution, expulsion, and extermination of German Jewry, thus prompting a sector of Weimar´s society to contribute to the persecution. However, I will also try to demonstrate that social apathy towards the Jewish community also arose and commingled with a radical, anti-Semitic culture. In large part, this social indifference also facilitated the State and popular persecution against the Jews, thus normalizing the interaction between Weimar´s society and the prisoners of the camp of Buchenwald. This project intends to examine how both social apathy and a Nazified version of Christian anti-Semitism flourished simultaneously in Weimar´s popular culture, thus influencing the behavior and attitude of Weimar´s society.
Isabella Pazaryna, Undergraduate in History
I plan on conducting archival research at the British National Archives and the London Metropolitan Archives concerning Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe that settled in London’s East End. The political backlash against this immigration resulted in Great Britain’s first law to suppress immigration, and the social and political status of these Jewish immigrants as non-assimilated aliens contributed to a greater political culture of anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-Semitism. I am hoping to embark on a senior thesis that will synthesize the lived experiences of the Jewish immigrants as well as the British political response to it, and situate it in the larger context of European antisemitism.
Milosz Wiatrowski, Graduate student in History
As part of my doctoral research, I will be researching the impact that the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 in Poland and the forced Jewish emigration that ensued had on how the communist regime, and socialism more broadly, were perceived by the Polish and Polish-Jewish left-wing intelligentsia. I wish to uncover ways in which the virulent nationalism and antisemitism mobilised by the communist party in 1968 led to disillusionment with the socialist idea in Poland in general, pushing the intellectuals in question away from Marxist revisionism and towards a new political philosophy of individual freedoms and human rights, which in turn laid the foundation for both the festival of Solidarity and, in due time, the embrace of market liberalization and neoliberalism at the expense of more socially conscious reforms in 1989. Such a turn towards market reform was further facilitated by the increasing exposure of the anti-communist activists in Poland to Western European debates on political economy, popularized by the Polish-Jewish intellectuals in exile via publications such as Aneks, edited by Aleksander Smolar. Through this, I hope to root the origins of the economic shock therapy of 1989/1990 firmly in the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968 and establish it as the central event in the intellectual history of the Polish People’s Republic.
Allyson Gonzalez, Postdoctoral Associate in Judaic Studies Program
Professions of love are not a common anti-Semitic trope in modern Iberia. In the expansion of modern Spanish and Portuguese imperial power, however, declarations of love by the Sephardim came to be expected among Iberian functionaries. In petitioning for citizenship, Sephardim from across transatlantic and former Ottoman domains confronted the realization that love declarations—as one applicant put it, of a shared Iberian “blood…language, and love” of country—had become a necessary part of naturalization discourse. Working within the confines of limited notions of Jewishness, Sephardic applicants explored the frontiers of consular constructions of love and national affiliation, even as they articulated differences that diverged from imperial Iberian philo-Sephardic fantasies. With this research project I will deepen my existing research on Sephardic citizenship in the early twentieth-century Mediterranean littoral.
Alice Kaplan, John M. Musser Professor of French
Alice Kaplan, John M. Musser Professor of French and Chair of the Department of French through spring 2016, is a literary historian of 20th century France, specializing in the period from the 1930s through WWII and the Liberation. Her courses at Yale include: Camus and Algeria, World War II in French Cinema, One Hundred Years of Swann’s Way, The Archives Fact and Fiction, and The Modern French Novel (with Maurice Samuels). Kaplan was one of the first scholars in her field to study French literary fascism (Reproductions of Banality 1986) and to track down the anti-Semitic sources of Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Bagatelles pour un massacre (1987). Kaplan’s books include French Lessons: A Memoir (1993), The Collaborator (2000, National Book Award Finalist and Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History), The Interpreter (2005, Henry Adams Prize) and Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis (2012). A former Guggenheim and NEH fellow, she is a member of the American Library in Paris Writers Council and the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel, and a regular contributor of essays on culture to the French online journal Contreligne . Recent work on Camus has taken her to Algeria. She is the editor of Albert Camus’ Algerian Chronicles (2013), and author of a forthcoming book, Looking for the Stranger: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic (fall 2016). Kaplan is the recipient of a Baron grant in summer 2015 to study “Memory Traces of Algerian Jewry.”