Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Johns Hopkins University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Johns Hopkins University
Jewish Political Lives at the End of Empire: Zionism, Nationalism, and British Imperialism in India, South Africa, and Palestine, 1917-1948

My dissertation explores Jewish "political thinking" in the British Empire from 1917 until the 1948 founding of the State of Israel, focusing specifically on three different groups of Jewish leaders in India, South Africa, and Palestine. By Jewish "political thinking," I mean the frameworks by which Jewish leaders in the British Empire understood and acted out their political loyalties, sense of national belonging, and visions of political futures shaped by British imperialism, Zionism, and local, non-Jewish nationalisms. I examine Jewish political thinking through the lens of four issues central to Jewish life in the empire during this period: colonial systems of racial classification and their impact on Jewish citizenship and electoral categorization; Jewish relationships to non-Jewish locals, particularly in relation to nation-building projects; Jewish relations with British colonial authorities; and finally Jewish attitudes towards Zionism, British imperialism, and other non-Jewish local nationalisms. The three groups of Jewish leaders in my dissertation—Baghdadi Jewish leaders in India; Anglo- and Lithuanian Jewish leaders in South Africa; and the Zionist leadership in British Palestine—reflect a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, cultural and religious practices, politics, and socio-economic statuses among the heterogeneous Jewish communities living throughout the empire. Despite their varied backgrounds, these Jewish leaders all served as intermediaries between the Jewish community and British colonial authorities, while simultaneously confronting Jewish nationalist ideals. An examination of their political thinking can illuminate the nexus between Jewish politics and British imperialism in the age of nationalism. Based on extensive archival research, this dissertation will use a broad range of sources including parliamentary debates, memorials, diaries, travelogues, personal correspondence, minutes, reports, sermons, lectures, and newspapers.