The Tobias Lecture with Marina Mogilner (Univ. of Illinois at Chicago)

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Pyle Center (702 Langdon St. Madison, WI)
@ 4:00 pm

The 2024 Tobias Lecture in Jewish Studies

Racial Science, Biopolitics, and Modern Russian Jewishness 

A book talk with

Marina Mogilner
(University of Illinois at Chicago)

Tuesday, March 5
Pyle Center

This event will also be livestreamed, via Zoom. To receive the link, please register in advance by clicking here.

In the late 19th century, Russian Jews spoke different languages and practiced different traditions. They had complex identities and no territorial homeland. Their inability to conform easily to new standards of nationality meant a future of inevitable assimilation or second-class minority citizenship. The solution proposed by Russian Jewish intellectuals was to ground Jewish nationhood in a structure deeper than culture or territory—biology.

Drawing on her book A Race for the Future: Scientific Visions of Modern Russian Jewishness, Marina Mogilner will show how leading Russian Jewish race scientists aimed to produce “authentic” knowledge about the Jewish body to motivate an empowering sense of racially grounded identity. The result of decades of archival and library work, the book uncovers a comprehensive, grassroots project of self-racializing, of overcoming one’s perceived national incompleteness in an aggressively nationalizing world, and of claiming biopolitical and political citizenship as a colonized nation.

Marina Mogilner is Professor and Edward and Marianna Thaden Chair in Russian and East European Intellectual History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to A Race for the Future: Scientific Visions of Modern Russian Jewishness (Harvard University Press, 2022), her recent books include Jews, Race, and the Politics of Difference: The Case of Vladimir Jabotinsky against the Russian Empire (Indiana University Press, 2023).

Co-sponsored by the the Department of History, GNS+, and the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia


For a downloadable PDF of this poster, click here