Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets

The Henry Schwartzman Endowed Faculty Seminar


legacy of bloodElissa Bemporad

Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
10:30 AM
Bildner Center, 12 College Avenue

Respondents: Paola Tartakoff, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History and Paul Hanebrink, Professor of History and Jewish Studies, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Elissa Bemporad will discuss her new book, Legacy of Blood: Jews, Pogroms, and Ritual Murder in the Lands of the Soviets (Oxford University Press), which explores the afterlife of the two most extreme manifestations of tsarist antisemitism—pogroms and blood libels. Based on witness accounts, memoirs, the press, and secret police reports from the archives and libraries of Kyiv, Lviv, Vilnius, Jerusalem, Washington D.C., and New York City, the book analyzes the role of the genocidal violence unleashed during the pogroms of the civil war in shaping the relationship among Jews, central and local authorities, and their neighbors. Bemporad traces the persistence and permutation of the blood libel in the atheistic Soviet Union throughout the interwar period and into the postwar period and reassesses the interplay between official and popular antisemitism in the USSR from 1917 to the early 1960s. By dissecting the phenomenon and the memory of anti-Jewish violence under the Bolsheviks, Bemporad sheds light on the ever-changing and at times ambivalent relationship between the state and the Jewish minority group in modern times.

Elissa BemporadElissa Bemporad is the Jerry and William Ungar Chair in East European Jewish History and the Holocaust and associate professor of history at Queens College and the Graduate Center of CUNY. She is the author of Becoming Soviet Jews: The Bolshevik Experiment in Minsk (Indiana University Press, 2013) which won a National Jewish Book Award, Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, and runner-up for the Jordan Schnitzer Prize in Modern Jewish History. Bemporad is the coeditor of two volumes: Women and Genocide: Survivors, Victims, Perpetrators, with Joyce W. Warren (Indiana University Press, 2018); and Pogroms: A Documentary History of Anti-Jewish Violence (with Gene Avrutin, forthcoming with Oxford University Press). She recently earned an NEH fellowship and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

This seminar is open to faculty and graduate students only.
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Lunch will be served.
Reservations required by Wednesday, February 19, 2020. RSVP NOW


A New Turn in Holocaust Scholarship: The Role of the Unpredictable and the Irrational


RootedDebórah Dwork
Inaugural Rose Professor of Holocaust History, Clark University
Bildner Visiting Scholar, Rutgers University

Thursday, November 21, 2019
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Bildner Center, 12 College Avenue

Holocaust research has been marked by series of sharp turns. Born into a vacuum of denial, the first wave of Holocaust scholarship documented destruction, starting with Hitler and shifting to his subordinates. Major turns soon followed: to the experiences of the Jews; the role of neighbors and civil society; the history of Jewish children; women; rescuers; families; the spatial turn. Drawing on her current research, Bildner Visiting Scholar Debórah Dwork suggests a new turn in Holocaust scholarship and explores the possibilities offered by plumbing the role of the unpredictable and the irrational.

Debórah Dwork, internationally renowned scholar, is currently serving as the Bildner Visiting Scholar for the fall 2019 semester. Founding director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Inaugural Rose Professor of Holocaust History at Clark University, Dwork conducted pathbreaking work in her early recordings of Holocaust survivors, weaving their narratives into the history she writes.

Faculty and graduate students only.

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