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Jews, Race, and the Politics of Difference

The Case of Vladimir Jabotinsky against the Russian Empire

Jews, Race, and the Politics of Difference explores how Russian Jewish writers and political activists such as Vladimir Jabotinsky turned to "race" as an operational concept in the late imperial politics of the Russian Empire.

Building on the latest scholarship on racial thinking and Jewish identities, Marina Mogilner shows how Jewish anthropologists, ethnographers, writers, lawyers, and political activists in late imperial Russia sought to construct a Jewish identity based on racial categorization in addition to religious affiliation. By grounding nationality not in culture and territory but in blood and biology, race offered Jewish nationalists in Russia a scientifically sound and politically effective way to reaffirm their common identity.

Jews, Race, and the Politics of Difference presents the works of Jabotinsky as a lens to understanding Jewish "self-racializing," and brings Jews and race together in a framework that is more multifaceted and controversial than that implied by the usual narratives of racial antisemitism.

About the Author

Marina Mogilner holds the Edward and Marianna Thaden Chair in Russian and East European Intellectual History at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is cofounder and coeditor of the international journal Ab Imperio and author of Homo Imperii: A History of Physical Anthropology in Russia and A Race for the Future: Scientific Visions of Modern Russian Jewishness.

Reviews

"With compelling evidence and impeccable scholarship, Mogilner interrogates the meaning of race as constructed in the late Russian Empire, showing, in particular, how it intersected with Jewish understandings of nationalism and  Zionism. Treading new ground, this important book will be of interest to a wide array of scholars."—Jeffrey Veidlinger, Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of  History and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan

"Marina Mogilner's extraordinary account of the legacy of one of the most odious figures in the history of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, illustrates how his revisionist Zionism became a dominant strain long after his death. She situates Jabotinsky within the original Russian context out of which he emerged: the modernizing, nationalizing late Russian empire in which ideas of race were central to the sense of nationness developing among Russians and Jews, not to mention other peoples. This work is as original and significant as this superb scholar's earlier  books. Mogilner's work is of the highest quality and has brought the conceptions of race in Russia to mainstream attention. Her works deserve the time that one has to take to digest them, both in their density, seriousness, and richness."—Ronald Grigor Suny, William H. Sewell, Jr. Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of History, The University of Michigan

"The idiosyncratic Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of right-wing Zionism, was one of the most influential political figures of his day. In this remarkable new book, the distinguished historian Marina Mogilner shows how the young Jabotinsky actively engaged in many of the same foundational questions that consumed so many other thinkers of racial thought at the turn of the twentieth century. According to Mogilner's insightful analysis, Jabotinsky's racialized Zionism emerges as much a distinct product of a turbulent imperial political era as an expression of Jewish nationalist cause."—Eugene M. Avrutin, author of Racism in Modern Russia: From the Romanovs to Putin

"With daring and verve, Marina B. Mogilner portrays a hitherto unknown intellectual and political profile of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the founder of Jewish radical right, in the earlier days of his Zionist career, convincingly underscoring his pivotal contribution to the formation of Jewish minority anti-hegemonic discourse vis-à-vis the late Tsarist Empire. In doing so, Mogilner not only offers an entirely different account of Jewish identity politics in the late imperial Russia, but also sheds a new light on the broad picture of the politics of difference under the circumstances of imperial modernity at large. This is a must-read for all students of modern Jewish and minority politics in the multiethnic settings."—Dmitry Shumsky, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of Beyond the Nation-State

"Jews, Race, and the Politics of Difference not only uncovers new facets in Jabotinsky's writings and ideology, but also provides a new methodological perspective for understanding discourse of race as a political language."—Svetlana Natkovich, University of Haifa

"Mogilner's fascinating and important study radically changes our perspective on Jews and race by showing how Jews in Imperial Russia used racial science to build the concept of Jews as a people, deserving of recognition. By focusing on Vladimir Jabotinsky as an imperial subject Mogilner shows that his Zionism, based on race as a unifying factor, was a response to his specific historical context. Thus, the study of race must be historicized, and the politics of race today must be distinguished from the politics of race a century ago."—Harriet Murav, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Marina Mogilner's fourth book completes a breath-taking reinterpretation of late imperial Russia as a context of imperial modernity which nurtured different visions of post-imperial and subaltern politics, including the politics of Jewish race by Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky. Like a detective, the author uncovers traces of imperial hybridity in the biography of this iconic figure of Zionism. It is a must read for those interested in the global history of race and post-coloniality"—Alexander Semyonov, John J. McCloy '22 Visiting Professor of History at Amherst College
Indiana University Press
Jews of Eastern Europe

9780253066121 : jews-race-and-the-politics-of-difference-mogilner
Hardback
234 Pages
$70.00 USD
9780253066138 : jews-race-and-the-politics-of-difference-mogilner
Paperback / softback
234 Pages
$30.00 USD

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