Jewish historiography generally tends to highlight religious, cultural and political aspects of the Jewish past more intensively than its economic features. This proclivity is all the more striking given the centrality of economics to Jewish life and to the image of Jews and Judaism in modern times. Indeed, the general image of the Jews is overloaded with patterns and emblems taken from the sphere of economics, resulting in an apparent “Jewish habitus”.
The aim of the workshop will be to examine how “economy” challenges basic notions of Jewish identity and history. For this propose, the workshop will suggest that the term “economy” should not only refer to the involvement and/or activities of Jews related to the production and distribution of goods and services. Instead, it assumes a broader and more cultural oriented approach to “economy,” which entails that the very coherence of the economy and its ability to function depends very much on the aptitude of people to interact, to allocate values and norms and on their willingness to share representations. The cultural significance of economy becomes evident when we examine Jewish history from this perspective. The workshop will discuss the potential of such notions of economy to Jewish history. It will welcome contributions which place economy at the centre of the modern Jewish experience and seek to confront central issues of Jewish history, such as assimilation and dissimilation, antisemitism as well as Jewish identity formation from a new perspective.
The workshop will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on April 15-16, 2005. Papers should be designed for 20 minute presentation. Please send an abstract of 250-300 words by January 10, 2005 to: Gideon Reuveni (e-mail address given below).
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