Hannah Arendt and the Struggle for Jewish Rights: A Talk with Natan Sznaider

April 03, 2013
4:00pm till 5:30pm
Location: 513 Fayerweather

April 3, 2013

This presentation tries to come to terms with Jewish politics right after the Holocaust. Usually, the understanding of Jewish politics after World War II is framed around the Jewish state of Israel and its meaning. This presentation will provide another angle, which connects Jewish particular politics with current concerns about cosmopolitan politics like human rights, genocide, and international law. I pay especially attention to Hannah Arendt's practical work for "Jewish Cultural Reconstruction" (JCR). This organization was founded in 1944 in order to re-define legally and morally the concept of Jewish cultural property, and to deal on a practical level with heirless Jewish cultural property stolen by the Nazis and liberated by the Allies. By looking more closely at the goals and struggles of this organization I will be able to evoke the urgency of Jewish politics that started immediately in 1945, and try to explain how the various positions of Jewish intellectuals shaped Jewish and Israeli politics in the years to come. The story being told here is a combination of two languages, political and theological as the story of pre and post-Holocaust Jewry.

Natan Sznaider is Professor of Sociology at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo in Israel. He was born in Germany, educated in Israel and the United States. He has taught at Columbia University in New York, at Munich University in Germany and is part of an international research team investigating cultural memory in Europe, Israel and Latin America.

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