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Anarchist Diasporism/Diasporic Anarchism:Jewish Anti-Statism and Statelessness

Sun, December 16, 12:30 to 2:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 2 Ballroom
Tue, December 18, 2:30 to 4:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 1 Ballroom

Session Submission Type: Seminar


How did Jewish anarchists theorize diaspora and statelessness? How did Jewish anarchists shape transnational labor history, philosophy, and literature? Rather than producing an aspiration to statehood, experiences of border-crossing and deportation often instigated the rejection of nationalism and a reconsideration of diaspora as a generative, ethical condition. This seminar examines the history of Jewish anarchism through its religious expressions, its radical transmissions and discontinuities in labor history, and its literary avant-garde.

The prominent role of anarchists in accounts of the Jewish Left and U.S. labor movement has been largely erased. Kenyon Zimmer examines this process of historiographical minimization, focusing on how choices to translate—or not translate—certain primary and secondary accounts from Yiddish into English contributed to this process. Caroline Luce documents how Ashkenazi anarchists participated in two overlapping radical movements in early twentieth-century Los Angeles: the Mexican anarchism of the Partido Liberal Mexicano (Magónistas) and the Jewish socialism of the Bund. Nina Gurianova examines the Russian newspaper Anarkhia, published by the brothers Abba and Zev-Volf Gordin, and the emergence of a 'Jewish trend' in anarchism in revolutionary Moscow of 1917. Diana Clarke’s research on Jewish anarchist labor organizing in Appalachia traces experiences of landedness and racialization, addressing the double erasure of regional histories of Yiddish radicalism.

The second session will examine anarchist diasporism in Jewish literature and theology. Adi Nester’s paper discusses the idealization of statelessness in the opera Hiob by Austrian-Jewish composer Erich Zeisl, based upon a novel by Joseph Roth. Anna Elena Torres analyzes the presence and persistence of Yiddish anarchism in Israel through the literary production of Yosef Luden, drawing from Luden’s poetry collections, his editorship of the bilingual newspaper Problemen/Problemot, and his 1984 work Brief History of Anarchist Thought, which constructs a genealogy of Jewish anarchism from the Essenes to Buber. Hayyim Rothman examines anarchist diasporism in the pacifist theology of Rabbi Aharon Samuel Tamaret (1869–1931), particularly Tamaret’s views on ultra-orthodoxy, Zionism, and the “supposed tragedy of exile.” Taken together, these papers offer new approaches to the study of Jewish anarchism across disciplines.

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