Congratulations Graduate Student Summer Funding Recipients
The American Academy for Jewish Research is pleased to announce the winners of its grants for graduate student summer research funding.
AAJR provides stipends for up to $4,000 to promising graduate students in any field of Jewish Studies at a North American university who have submitted their Ph.D. Dissertation prospectus and have a demonstrated need for materials from archival, library, or manuscript collections or for ethnographic research.
Jake Beckert, University of Washington Seattle
Profit in the Holy Land: American Capital and Development in Mandatory Palestine
Private commercial investment into the Jewish economy in Mandatory Palestine was instrumental in the success of the Zionist movement. In the 1920s and 1930s, American Jews, utilized transnational corporations to channel significant American capital to Palestine. My dissertation examines the largest such corporation, the Palestine Economic Corporation (PEC). Based in the United States, the PEC was founded as a compromise between Zionists and non-Zionist leaders, who agreed that despite their diverging views on Jewish nationalism they could provide aid to Jews in Palestine on what they called a “strictly business” and “non-political” basis. My project examines how despite its claimed apoliticism the PEC abetted the Zionist movement in Palestine. Furthermore, by tracking the transitional flow of people and capital, I argue that American Jewish involvement in Palestine should be understood in a transnational context, connecting Jewish investors and experts from New York, London, and Paris to Palestine.
Hadas Binyamini, New York University
A ’Torah-True’ Urban Agenda: Orthodox Jews in New York, Religion and Conservatism from 1964 to 1991
The dissertation examines the formation of an Orthodox urban agenda in New York City and its impact on urban conservatism from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s. In these decades, Orthodox Jews participated in increasingly urgent political fights across New York over the appropriate distribution of public resources and the role of government in solving social problems. Orthodox rabbis, activists, and lay leaders proposed far-ranging solutions to the challenges faced by the communities they claimed to represent—crime, poverty, white flight, and neighborhood deterioration—and pursued partnerships with New York’s newly formed conservative and neoconservative coalitions. Their intellectual debates, lobbying, coordinated voting campaigns, and public protests reveal the emergence of a distinct philosophy of Orthodox politics and American citizenship.
Daan de Leeuw, Clark University
The Geography of Slave Labor: Dutch Jews and the Third Reich, 1942-1945
The dissertation project focuses on the movement of Jewish slave laborers through the concentration camp system that was a central feature of the Holocaust. The Germans shifted prisoners to places where the war industry needed them. Each relocation shattered the prisoners’ networks and social structure as it affected the bonds that inmates created among themselves. Grounded in survivor testimonies and administrative records, this study investigates how Dutch Jewish slave laborers experienced these frequent relocations. Focusing on 9 out of the 103 transports that left the Netherlands between 1942 and 1944, Daan de Leeuw uses cartography to visualize the paths of individuals and groups of deportees through the camp system to open a fresh perspective on Jewish slave labor during the Holocaust.
Ludwig Decke, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Antiracism after Hitler: Jews, the State, and the Fight against Racial Discrimination in Western Europe, 1940s-1980s
The dissertation project examines the role of Jews in antiracist discourses and activism in Western Europe since 1945. It investigates why combatting antisemitism and fighting racism often turned into separate and at times competing struggles. At the same time, it seeks to excavate moments of solidarity between Jews and other racialized populations and examines their historical causes. By taking France, West Germany, and Great Britain as my case studies, the project will offer a comparative and transnational intellectual history of the relationship between Jewish politics and antiracism after the Holocaust, during decolonization and the growing ethnic and cultural diversity in Europe, and in the face of persistent anti-Jewish sentiments.
Ethell Gershengorin, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Healthy Bodies, Upright Citizens: The OZE, Jewish Women and Children, and Inter-War Medical Humanitarianism, 1914-1939
The Society for the Preservation of the Health of the Jewish Population (OZE) was an organization dedicated to providing medical aid to Jews of the former Russian Empire ravaged by war, revolution, poverty, and disease. This dissertation examines the OZE’s programs directed toward the Yiddish-speaking Jewish population, specifically women and children to understand how concerns about a Jewish future converged on anxieties about how to properly raise the next generation. By focusing on the OZE and its work to transform Yiddish-speaking Jewry in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Soviet Ukraine, this dissertation will provide a different answer to the question of how Jews sought belonging in interwar Eastern Europe, one that grounds medicine and aid as crucial to understanding Jewish politics.
Jacqueline Krass, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Vu iz dos alte hoyz mayn zaydns?”: A Yiddish Counterhistory of Jewish American Poetry
The dissertation examines postwar Jewish American poetry as a form of ethnic literature. Situating it within the complex arena of 1970s-90s ethnic publishing, Jacqueline Krass focuses on the field’s enmeshments with Yiddish literature and writing by Asian-American, Arab-American, and Latinx writers who created their own publishing outlets through which to articulate a politically informed, explicitly multilingual poetics. She does so through a case study of the 1970-5 secular Jewish kabbalah journal Tree; reading representations of Hagar across work by Yiddish poet Itzik Manger, womanist theologians, and Syrian-American Muslim poet Mohja Kahf; and examining the relationship between Gloria Anzaldúa and Irena Klepfisz, friends, lesbian poets, and activists of the 1970s-90s whose multilingual poetry marked a major shift in 20th-century America’s relationship to English.
Matthew Shih, University of Toronto
Recovering the Musical Lives of Jewish Migrants in Shanghai
The dissertation investigates the musical pursuits of the Austrian and German Jewish migrants who fled to Shanghai throughout the 1930s and 40s. Matthew Shih combines archival research with postcolonial theoretical approaches to evaluate: 1) how the conditions of exile in Shanghai are reflected in émigré musicians’ creative output and 2) the impact of migrants’ musical involvement on Shanghai’s developing Western music scene. Considering the migrant-host society relationship as a reciprocal exchange of culture, this project explores the individual perspectives of Jewish musicians, such as composer Julius Schloss and pianist Karl Steiner, together with the viewpoints of the local Chinese population. Ultimately, this project seeks to recognize the global musical contributions of the Jewish wartime diaspora and to decenter musicology’s Eurocentric understanding of exiled musicians.
Lelia Stadler, Columbia University
The Road to Trans-South American Divorce: Jews, Family, and the Rise of the Immigrant Nation (1853-1955)
The dissertation examines how legal prohibition on divorce in Argentina shaped the Jewish family, the Jewish community, and the Jewish citizen between c. 1850-1950. This lens allows for a comparative exploration of non-normative family structures in Latin America more broadly and of those of Jewish immigrants. By analyzing sources in Spanish, Yiddish, Hebrew, Portuguese, and French from archives in South America and the Middle East, Lelia Stadler seeks to explain how and why the relationship between immigration and family law in South American states engendered alternative family structures. She highlights how Jewish immigrants challenged and undermined the Argentine state by persistently resisting the absence of civil divorce, shedding new light on the transformation of Latin America into an immigrant region.
The American Academy for Jewish Research (www.aajr.org) is the oldest professional organization of Judaica scholars in North America. Composed of the field’s most eminent and senior scholars, it is committed to professional service through this initiative and others, including the Salo Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish Studies and workshops for graduate students and early career scholars.