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Talk: "Zionism and Antisemitism: Ideologies or Emotions?"

Thursday, January 24, 2019 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Like other forms of racism, antisemitism provides an ideological veneer for a bundle of negative emotions such as fear, resentment, despair, and shame. Like other forms of nationalism, Zionism employs ideology to sustain an emotional community united by a blend of negative emotions and positive ones such as hope, love, and pride.

Focusing on the 1890s through 1920s, and on the Zionist leaders Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, this talk examines the emotional components of Zionist diplomacy and compares their impact on Zionists and antisemites alike. Possessed of radically dissimilar personalities and operating under different geo-political circumstances, Herzl elevated antisemitism into an ideology, while Weizmann engaged with it as an emotion.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Derek J. Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History at Harvard University.  He specializes in the history of modern European Jewry, Zionism, and the state of Israel.

Penslar’s books include Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918 (1991);  Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001); Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective (2006); and Jews and the Military: A History (2013).  He has edited or co-edited four important volumes: In Search of Jewish Community: Jewish Identities in Germany and Austria, 1918-1933 (1998, co-edited with Michael Brenner); Orientalism and the Jews (co-edited with Ivan Kalmar, 2004); Contemporary Antisemitism: Canada and the World (2005); and The Origins of the State of Israel 1882-1948: A Documentary History (with Eran Kaplan, 2011). 

Penslar is currently writing a biography of Theodor Herzl for Yale University Press’ Jewish Lives series and a book titled Zionism: An Emotional State, for Rutgers University Press’ series on Keywords in Jewish Studies.  Before coming to Harvard University, Penslar was a professor at Indiana University, University of Toronto, and Oxford University.  Penslar is co-editor of The Journal of Israeli History and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and president of the American Academy for Jewish Research.


Sponsored by: Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies and Department of Germanic Studies



Location: Patton Hall (RLP), Room 1.302E
UT Austin
Fees: Free
Calendar: Jewish Austin Community Event Calendar
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