Rural and Urban Jewries Between Tradition and Modernity
The dichotomy of ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ characterizes our image of Jewish history and culture to this day. The dualism of “land equals stagnation” and “city equals modernization” is a common schol-arly pattern that needs to be questioned. The relationship between city and countryside has mostly been seen as a one-way street and as an “either/or,” either city or country. This raises the question: is this dichotomy tenable in light of newer research on transformation processes? Such a stark contrast obscures important questions: What happened in-between city and countryside and in movements that headed in both directions? How are categories like “city” and “countryside” complicated by connections and trans-fers of persons, texts, objects, ideas, and institutions?
This interdisciplinary workshop therefore focuses on the phenomenon of rural Jewries in their relation-ships to urban ones, and is not limited to any given historical period. The focus is on Central Europe (esp. the German-speaking areas), Eastern (Central) Europe, as well as North America. These regions are entangled not least by Jewish migrations in the context of tradition and modernization; they also suggest different responses to the core questions of the workshop.
The following questions shall be discussed at the workshop: Are rural and urban Jewries today still considered as set categories in research? When and where have rural Jews been agents of modernization, and when and where did such impulses come from and urban Jews? The interaction of the different milieus of the rural population with each other as well as that of the country with the city and vice versa should be included.
Potential topics to discuss at the workshop are:
• Discussion of the categories of tradition, modernity, and modernization? With a focus on Jewish life worlds in the city and the country
• Country Jew/City Jew? On a problematic typology
• How did movements from city to the countryside and vice versa look like in different regions from pre-modern times to modern times?
• The role of border crossers between country and city
• Rural and urban Jewries in a transnational comparison
• Interactions among religious and ethnic groups in rural areas
• Interactions between country and city by knowledge transfer, economics, internal migration and trans-national migration
• Popular images of urban and rural Jews and Jewries in literature, theater and film