Studying the Mideast Through the Prism of the Jewish Communities
Date and time: Monday, August 31, 2020, 12 noon to 1:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)
The talk will focus on how the study of minorities, and especially Jewish communities, help us understand better the histories of Middle Eastern societies, especially in the transformative period of the twentieth century. In an era when access to Middle Eastern official archives is notably restricted, scholars of the Middle East have to find sources in diplomatic correspondence and civil society organizations. Diplomatic correspondence can reveal only certain aspects of history and daily life, and most other civil society organizations have archives that are rarely functional. Foreign aid organizations, therefore, had the next most exhaustive experience of local societies. The talk will emphasize the role of the Joint Distribution Committee Archives in uncovering the history of the region. The JDC stands out because of its unique position as an NGO with connections with American and Middle Eastern country and municipal governments. Other resources to be discussed are the AIU archives and the JPress database.
Lior Sternfeld is an assistant professor of History and Jewish Studies at Penn State University. He is a social historian of the modern Middle East with particular interests in the histories of the Jewish people and other minorities of the region. His first book, Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth-Century Iran (Stanford University Press, 2018) examines, against the backdrop of Iranian nationalism, Zionism and constitutionalism, and the development and integration of Jewish communities in Iran into the nation-building projects of the last century. Sternfeld is currently working on a new book project, which will be the first comprehensive study of the Iranian-Jewish Diaspora in the U.S. and Israel.
Dr. Sternfeld received the Fred and Ellen Lewis/JDC Archives Fellowship in 2012 to conduct research in the JDC Archives for his doctoral studies.
This program is co-sponsored by the Ben Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East.
This event is free and open to the public. Registration required.