Jews in the U.S. Racial Landscape

For the Public
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

Zoom Link to be provided
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What does it mean that Jews can be both white and victims of white supremacy? And how do Jews fit into a US racial landscape, especially given the reality of Jews as a multi-racial group? This talk explores two moments in US history - the early 1900s and today - to analyze the relationship of Jews and race.

About the “Critical Race Studies” Series

The critical study of race burst into American politics this year, leaving many people wondering what the fuss is all about. As an approach to understanding systemic inequality in the legal system, “critical race theory” has a specific purview, but it is connected to a wider attempt to decode the ways race has been constructed and deployed in social, religious, and legal contexts across history. Scholars in Jewish studies have long queried the role of race in the Jewish history, with recent work connecting ever more deeply to the critical study of race more broadly.

This three-part series engages scholars of three distinct periods of Jewish history to help us understand the complex trajectories of ideas about race and the cultural systems that support and enact them, in relation to the pressing questions of race studies today. Looking at the premodern world, the early modern Atlantic, and this American century, we ask two central questions: How is race a helpful lens for understanding the Jewish historical experience? And, how does thinking about Jewish history inform large-scale questions about racial thinking and systemic racism?


About the image above: "A New Map of Our Country, Prospective and Present," 1856, National Archives.


Sarah Imhoff

Sarah Imhoff

Indiana University Bloomington

Sarah Imhoff is an associate professor in the Borns Jewish Studies Program and Religious Studies Department at Indiana University Bloomington. She is author of Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism and The Lives of Jessie Sampter: Queer, Disabled, Zionist (forthcoming from Duke University Press).

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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Klatt Family and the Harry Stern Family Foundation.