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Antisemitism and the Politics of History

Edited by Scott Ury and Guy Miron

This groundbreaking anthology addresses the history and challenges of using “antisemitism” and related terms as tools for historical analysis and public discourse. Drawing together seventeen essays by prominent scholars from Europe, Israel, and the United States, the volume encourages readers to rethink assumptions regarding the nature and meaning of Jewish history and the history of relations between Jews and non-Jew.

The book begins with a revised and updated version of David Engel’s seminal essay “Away from a Definition of Antisemitism.” Subsequent contributions by renowned specialists in ancient, medieval, and modern history, religious studies, and other fields explore the various and changing definitions and uses of the term “antisemitism” in a range of contexts, including ancient Rome and Greece, the Byzantine Empire, medieval Europe, early modern and modern Europe, North America, and the United Kingdom. The volume also includes a section that focuses on the Second World War, including the Holocaust and its memory. Engel offers a contemporary response to conclude the book.

First published in Hebrew in 2020 as a special issue of the journal Zion: A Quarterly for Research in Jewish History in cooperation with the Zalman Shazar Center in Jerusalem, this compelling collection has already had an impact on the study of antisemitism in Israel. It is certain to become a critical resource for scholars, policymakers, and journalists researching antisemitism, Holocaust studies, and related fields.

Paper: $40 | Cloth: $120 | E-book: $39.95
ISBN-13: 9781684581801
Pages: 384 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: October 21, 2023
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Ury and Miron’s volume makes a stimulating and fair-minded contribution to historiographical, theoretical, and contemporary political discussions and debates about antisemitism as a historical phenomenon and analytical category. Each essay is illuminating in its own right and as part of the whole. A rare achievement!

Alexandra Garbarini

Charles R. Keller Professor of History, Williams College

Reviews

  • Ury and Miron's volume makes a stimulating and fair-minded contribution to historiographical, theoretical, and contemporary political discussions and debates about antisemitism as a historical phenomenon and analytical category. Each essay is illuminating in its own right and as part of the whole. A rare achievement!

    Alexandra Garbarini
    Charles R. Keller Professor of History, Williams College
  • What’s in a name? This volume analyzes and deconstructs the numerous meanings of the portmanteau ‘antisemitism,’ from adjective to tool, from history to political anthropology, since antiquity through the Holocaust to present-day America. The writers challenge our use of language and concepts as way of understanding the difficulties of connecting the word to concrete historical events.

    Sylvie Anne Goldberg
    L’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
  • A timely debate about meaning and intention in the application of a loaded term, and an insightful reflection on the connection between historical events, feelings, and discourse.

    Orit Rozin
    Tel Aviv University
  • Antisemitism and the Politics of History probes key ethical, political, methodological, and intellectual issues surrounding the study of antisemitism with chronological and disciplinary breadth. It seeks to answer thought-provoking questions and features established prominent scholars alongside a new generation of researchers, thus offering a variety of voices grappling with fundamental assumptions concerning antisemitism as a concept and a historical phenomenon.

    Magda Teter
    Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies, Fordham University
  • Antisemitism and the Politics of History makes an essential contribution to rethinking “antisemitism.” Launched by David Engel’s prod to scholars to avoid using the term “antisemitism” since it often obscures more than it reveals, this set of essays interrogates the truisms, assumptions, and conventions widespread in both the academic study and popular understanding of antisemitism. Ranging across empirical analyses from the ancient world to the present, discussed alongside cutting-edge theory, a host of assumptions are interrogated so that readers are treated to new insights and new possibilities in how to think about how we think about “antisemitism.”

    Jonathan Judaken
    Washington University in St. Louis
  • "Antisemitism and the Politics of History" is a highly stimulating read and a useful contribution to the field of Jewish history as well as other avenues of scholarship that focus on antisemitism. I predict that historians and others will continue to use the term “antisemitism” in scholarly and public discourse, even after having read this volume. But having read it, they will be better equipped to use the term with an appropriate degree of critical sensitivity.

    Ethnic and Racial Studies

About the Author

Scott Ury

Scott Ury is an associate professor in the Department of Jewish History and director of the Eva and Marc Besen Institute for the Study of Historical Consciousness at Tel Aviv University and Senior Editor of the journal History and Memory. He is the author of the award-winning monograph Barricades and Banners: The Revolution of 1905 and the Transformation of Warsaw Jewry.

Guy Miron

Guy Miron is professor of history and vice president for academic affairs at the Open University of Israel. He is the author of The Waning of Emancipation: Jewish History, Memory, and the Rise of Fascism in Germany, France, and Hungary and Space and Time under Persecution: The German-Jewish Experience in the Third Reich.

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