Iraq, Galicia, and the Question of Provinciality

 Iraq, Galicia, and the Question of Provinciality

Series of Discussions: Jews and the Empires: Political Imagination in the Present


In this encounter we will turn our attention from the multinational imperial centers to the outlying and border areas. We will consider the political possibilities that distancing from the imperial center created and how Jews fit in there with other groups. We will address the meaning of imperial border areas and the role of local or regional identity in the imperial framework. We will also ask how proximity to the border of the empire influenced the political imagination that developed in the outlying areas. The discussion will focus on two border areas: Galicia, on the border of the Habsburg Empire, and Iraq, on the border of the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the meanings of this unconventional arrangement contribute to understanding the role of the outlying areas and the political possibilities that it creates.

What can we learn from how Jews existed in the multinational modern empires? What possibilities did the imperial age offer the Jews who lived within the empires? Which of those possibilities disappeared with the end of that era, and which new ones emerged?

Recent years have seen an increasing scholarly engagement with the question of the Jews’ place in the modern multinational empires: the British, Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and French. In this discussion series, to be held at the Institute, we will consider key aspects of Jewish history and Jewish thought in the imperial context – a context in which there was no requirement for the unity of religion, nationality, language, and territory. Given that in the imperial era there were various forms of religious and nonsovereign national frameworks, we will use that fact to create an opening for political thought about the present and the future, and not only about the past.

Organizers of the series: Ido HarariDr. Avi-ram Tzoreff, Dr. Maya Shabbat, Dafna Schreiber


Chair: Dr. Avi-ram Tzoreff, Polonsky Academy, The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute


Prof. Orit Bashkin, University of Chicago

Prof. Rachel Menkin, University of Maryland

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