James B. Loeffler F'09
ACLS Fellowship Program 2009
University of Virginia
The Peoples of the Book: Cultural Sovereignty and World Jewry in the Twentieth Century
This project explores the historical roots of the contemporary relationship between world Jewry and the state of Israel by examining efforts to repatriate Jewish culture in the aftermath of twentieth-century war and genocide. It argues that in the post-World War II efforts to remove Jewish books from Europe and elsewhere to Israel and the United States, a new concept of cultural sovereignty emerged that came to define the inner contours and differences in Jewish identity inside the Israeli nation state and in diasporic Jewish communities. This research traces the intellectual and political debates between American, European, and Israeli leaders about the legal, political, and cultural ownership of Jewish books and, by extension, where Jewish culture should live.