The talk focuses on one of the many protagonists of the book project, A RACE FOR THE FUTURE: THE SCIENTIFIC VISIONS OF MODERN RUISSIAN JEWISHNESS, Samuel Weissenberg (1867–1928), who worked on a new positive theory of Jewishness. One of the best known and widely travelled Jewish race scientists of his time, introduced today by Encyclopedia Judaica as “perhaps the most distinguished of that first generation of Jewish anthropologists” after Cesare Lombroso, Weissenberg spent most of his life in provincial Elisavetgrad in the Pale of Jewish Settlement (today, Kropyvnytskyi in Ukraine). Legally, he was denied the right to reside beyond the Pale, however, living in Elisavetgrad was also his conscious and willing choice. Weissenberg turned upside down the standard relationships between an anthropologist possessing the authority of “Western knowledge” and the “Oriental” objects of his research. Moreover, Weissenberg provincialized Europe in the Jewish fin-de-siècle discourse by advancing a “Caucasian” theory of modern European Jewry’s origin. The talk explores Weissenberg’s complex scholarly self-positioning within the Russian late imperial situation that informed his understanding of groupness, hybridity and purity, territoriality, and Jewishness.
A reception will follow.
Lower level SH Stevenson Hall
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Institute for the Humanities