Host:Joan Neuberger, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin Guest:Robert Weinberg, Isaac H. Clothier Professor of History and International Relations, Swarthmore College
In Kiev, in 1911, a Jewish factory manager named Mendel Beilis was indicted for murdering a young boy. Many believed that Beilis had carried out the murder as part of a ritual known as the “blood libel,” in which Jews used the blood of gentile children for baking Passover matzo. Where the idea of the “blood ritual” come from and why did people all over the world believe it? And what happened to Mendel Beilis?
Historian Robert Weinberg, who teaches Russian history at Swarthmore College is here to answer these questions.
Host:Augusta Dell’Omo, Department of History, UT-Austin Guest:Tatjana Lichtenstein, Professor, Department of History, and Director, Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, UT-Austin
After World War 1, the Zionist movement – the Jewish nationalist movement that had the creation of a national homeland as its ultimate goal – took root in the new country of Czechoslovakia. However, through the mechanisms of the Zionist movement itself, Czechoslovak Jews realized their collective power as an organized group within their own country for the first time. What happened next was a struggle between the goals of international Zionism and the potential reality of what Czechoslovakian Jewry could attain through collective bargaining – until the rise of Hitler and WWII tipped the scales.
Guest Tatjana Lichtenstein has studied the Zionist movement in Czechoslovakia and gives us a glimpse into the interwar period when Czech Jewish leaders saw the possibility of being accepted into European society, ironically through the mechanisms of a movement that’s become associated with immigration to the Middle East.
Anyone following the news today could be forgiven for thinking that Iran and Israel were natural enemies and had been since the latter was established in 1948. But before Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979, the two nations had a close unofficial relationship that extended beyond economic and commercial ties. In 1962, Jalal Al-e Ahmad, arguably the most influential Iranian writer of the twentieth century, visited Israel on an officially sponsored visit and published a travelogue of his experience.
Guest Samuel Thrope, a writer currently based in Jerusalem, has just translated Al-e Ahmad’s Safar beh Velayat-e Ezrael into English as The Israeli Republic, a fascinating look at a time when Iranian socialists looked at Israel as a possible model for what Iran could become—and how that vision soured after the 1967 Six Day War.
Southeastern Europe, or the Balkans, grabbed headlines in the 1990s after the collapse of communism with the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the bloody conflicts that followed. At the time, much was made of the region’s unique history, having been separated from Europe and languishing under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. But, was this really the cause of the conflict in the 20th century? What was life in southeastern Europe like under the Ottomans?
Guest Mary Neuburger walks us through current historical thinking about the five hundred year legacy of Ottoman rule in southeastern Europe, and gives us an alternate explanation for the turbulence of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Host:Joan Neuberger, Professor, Department of History, and editor, Not Even Past Guest:Christopher Rose, Outreach Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
World War I had a profound impact on the Middle East and North Africa. With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, European powers carved the region into mandates, protectorates, colonies, and spheres of influence. Just a few decades later, however, World War II, however, left the colonial powers bankrupt and looking to get out of the empire business as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences.
In the second half of a two part podcast, guest and co-host Christopher Rose from UT’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies discusses the lingering effects of 20th century European imperialism in the region and the transition to independence.
Host:Joan Neuberger, Department of History and Editor, Not Even Past Guest:Philippa Levine, Professor; Mary Helen Thompson Centennial Professorship in the Humanities; Co-Director British Studies Program
Early in the twentieth century, governments all over the world thought they had found a rational, efficient, and scientific solution to the related problems of poverty, crime, and hereditary illness. Scientists hoped they might be able to help societies control the social problems that arose from these phenomena. All over the world, the science-turned-social-policy known as eugenics became a base-line around which social services and welfare legislation were organized.
Philippa Levine, co-editor of a newly published book on the history of eugenics, explains the appeal and wide-reaching effects of the eugenics movement, which at its best inspired access to pre-natal care, access to clean water, and the eradication of harmful diseases, but at its worst led to compulsory sterilization laws, and the horrific experiments of the Nazi death camps.