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Theses Doctoral

Keyner iz nit fargesn: Soviet Yiddish Antifascism and the Holocaust

Schulz, Miriam

This study provides a Benjaminian reading of Soviet Yiddish cultural and intellectual history from the 1920s to the 1980s and retrieves the legacy of Soviet Yiddish antifascist thought and activism as a constitutive element throughout its existence. The interconnected ideas of antifascism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism are introduced as important reading keys for Soviet Yiddish culture, for its ideas of ‘Jewishness’ and for its varied responses to the Holocaust and its memory – as represented in works of literature, film, theater and monuments. In attempting to ‘decolonize’ this antifascism and Holocaust memory in dialogue with postcolonial studies and critical race theory, this study makes sense of the Soviet and Yiddish cultural ecosystems with the help of Homi Bhabha’s notion of ‘cultural hybridity’ and posits not persecution and antisemitism as the ‘engine’ of Soviet Yiddish history – but its very intellectual engagement with, and activism against, those two forces in ‘rhizomatic’ fashion.

As such, it contributes to the renaissance in research into antifascism in the longue durée and its links to communist internationalism. Besides illuminating a counter-memory of the Holocaust, this story about Soviet Yiddish activism and brave memory-work also uncovers the Cold-War-generated stakes of our postwar conception of ‘Jewishness.’ These conceptions have both needed Soviet Yidishkayt as their ‘other,’ and simultaneously silenced and forgotten it. Ultimately, this study hopes to reopen this archive of thought and memory as a repository of tools to be used in the current moment of rising transnational fascism as well.

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This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2026-05-21.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Germanic Languages
Thesis Advisors
Dauber, Jeremy A.
Estraikh, Gennady
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 1, 2021