Colloquium: Jason Lustig (UT Austin)


LOCATION: UTA building, 5th floor, 5.522

TITLE: A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture—A Case Study in Community-Based Archiving and the Quest to “Own” History

ABSTRACT: This presentation explores twentieth-century Jewish archival activities as an early and important case study in community-based archiving against the backdrop of the rapidly changing landscape of Jewish history and culture, beginning with global mass migration, urbanization and nationalism, and the destruction of European Jewry and the looting and restitution of Jewish cultural treasures including historical archives. Archive projects in Germany, the United States, and Israel/Palestine highlight a time to gather in modern Jewish culture, a feverish era of collecting—and conflict—when Jews turned to archives as sources of history, anchors of memory, and arbiters of “authentic” Jewish history and culture. The presentation will overview my present book project, “A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture,” and how the history of twentieth-century Jewish archives illustrates the meaning of the struggle to control one’s own history. This history illustrates how such efforts lead to internal conflict within communities due to competing visions of total collecting as well as the more recent possibilities and challenges of virtual collections which offer a tantalizing possibility to digitally reconstruct the scattered fragments of the past. As I will suggest, archival centralization became one means of asserting dominance over Jewish life. In such a time to gather, archives were powerful but contested symbols of control of not just of the past but also of the present and future.

BIO: Jason Lustig is a Lecturer and Israel Institute Teaching Fellow at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT Austin, and has previously been a Harry Starr Fellow in Judaica at Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies and a Gerald Westheimer Early Career Fellow at the Leo Baeck Institute. His book manuscript, A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, traces the creation of Jewish archives in Germany, the United States, and Israel/Palestine across the 20th century as a battleground over who could “own” Jewish culture. He also is the creator and host of the Jewish History Matters podcast.


1:15pm to 2:45pm


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