A Parallel Science? The Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Commission and Jewish Studies during the Late Soviet Period
[Parallel’naia nauka? Evreiskaia istoriko-etnograficheskaia komissiia i iudaika v pozdnesovetskii period]
Type of publication: Research Article
Soviet Union, Judaica, Jewish studies, Jewish emigration, Human Rights movement, history of ethnography, perestroika
After years of difficult conditions for Jewish Studies in the Soviet Union, a new Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Commission was founded in 1982. It was a daring undertaking, especially taking into account the fact that some of its members had applied for emigration to Israel and took part in the independent Jewish movement. However, other founding members were reputable colleagues of the Institute of Ethnography, the Soviet Academy of Sciences, who, in addition to their work for the Jewish commission, did research on other ethnographic subjects. In 1982, the Commission convinced the only Yiddish-language Soviet journal “Sovetish Heymland” to launch a special section on Jewish ethnography. “Sovetish Heymland” was originally meant to propagate USSR’s liberal attitude towards its Jews and thus to serve as a Soviet soft power tool. Despite the distrust of, and surveillance by, the state, Jewish commission’s members of the Jewish movement used the state’s official structures, such as “Sovetish Heymland” and the Academy of Sciences, to recover the heritage of its predecessor in archives and museums and to conduct field research in remote areas of the Soviet Union. In doing so, it served both as a platform for exchange and as a starting point for some future professionals in Jewish studies.
Huhn, U. 2019. Parallel’naia nauka? Evreiskaia istoriko-etnograficheskaia komissiia i iudaika v pozdnesovetskii period [A Parallel Science? The Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Commission and Jewish Studies during the Late Soviet Period]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 3: 166-182. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150005288-6
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