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The Economy in Jewish History: New Perspectives on the Interrelationship between Ethnicity and Economic Life

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The Economy in Jewish History

New Perspectives on the Interrelationship between Ethnicity and Economic Life

Edited by Gideon Reuveni and Sarah Wobick-Segev
Foreword by Derek Penslar

252 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-774-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (December 2010)

eISBN 978-1-84545-986-4 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


The book at first appears to be incoherent because of the diversity of the subjects treated, but one can remember it surprisingly as a fairly homogeneous whole after having read it from the beginning to the end… [when] the reader is left with a kind of holographic image of a vast and multifaceted Jewish economic activity, which spans many centuries and which admirably and miraculously continues to flourish.  ·  The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought

The volume under review is a signal contribution to the recent wave of new research…The result [of this volume’s approach] is rewarding for readers interested in thematic explorations about society, culture, and money, as seen from an insider/outsider perspective.”  ·  Journal of Interdisciplinary History

The theme…is a vitally important one, Reuveni’s Prolegomena lays out a compelling interpretation of the field…. The volume as a whole is valuable in providing the reader with an overview of the engagement of Jews in the economy, or how Jews were imagined to participate in the economy, particularly in Europe.  ·  Leora Auslander, University of Chicago

This is an impressive essay collection that [offers] an innovative approach to modern Jewish history…. Another strong point is that several contributions are based on archival research and deal with little studied contexts, such as Africa or indeed Hungary.  ·  Tobias Brinkmann, Penn State University


Jewish historiography tends to stress the religious, cultural, and political aspects of the past. By contrast the “economy” has been pushed to the margins of the Jewish discourse and scholarship since the end of the Second World War. This volume takes a fresh look at Jews and the economy, arguing that a broader, cultural approach is needed to understand the central importance of the economy. The very dynamics of economy and its ability to function depend on the ability of individuals to interact, and on the shared values and norms that are fostered within ethnic communities. Thus this volume sheds new light on the interrelationship between religion, ethnicity, culture, and the economy, revealing the potential of an “economic turn” in the study of history.

Gideon Reuveni is Director of the Centre for German Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex. He is the author of Reading Germany: Literature and Consumer Culture in Germany before 1933 (Berghahn, 2006) and the co-editor of several other books on different aspects of Jewish history. Presently he is working on a book on consumer culture and the making of Jewish identity in Europe.

Sarah Wobick-Segev is a Jim Joseph postdoctoral teaching fellow at Syracuse University. She has most recently published “Une place pour l’amour? Le mariage juif à Paris et à Berlin dans une ère transitionnelle, 1890–1930” in Expériences croisées. Les juifs de France et d’Allemagne aux XIXe et XXe siècles edited by Heidi Knörzer (Éditions de l’éclat, 2010).

Subject: History (General) Jewish Studies


Chapter 1. Prolegomena to an ‘Economic Turn’ in Jewish History
Gideon Reuveni


Chapter 2. Can Economic History Date the Inception of Jewish Modernity?
Jonathan Karp

Chapter 3. Wandering as Circulation: Dostoevsky and Marx on the ‘Jewish Question’
Kirill Postoutenko

Chapter 4. Money Makes the Jew Go Round: West German Jewry and the Search for Flexibility
Anthony D. Kauders


Chapter 5. All Talk or Business as Usual? Brokerage and Schmoozing in a Swiss Urban Society in the early 19th Century
Susanne Bennewitz

Chapter 6. Socialists, Bankers and Sephardic Jews: The Pereire Brothers and the Crédit Mobilier
Helen M. Davies

Chapter 7. Buying, Selling, Being, Drinking; Or, how the Coffeehouse became a Site for the Consumption of new Jewish Modalities of Belonging
Sarah Wobick-Segev

Chapter 8. Consuming Powers: The “Jewish Department Store” in German Politics and Culture
Paul Lerner


Chapter 9. Going Native: Moritz Jellinek and the Modernization of the Hungarian Economy
Michael L. Miller

Chapter 10. Jews, Plumes, and Global Commerce in the Modern Period
Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Chapter 11. Trading in Torah: Bootleg Bibles and Secondhand Scripture in the Age of European Imperialism
Adam Mendelssohn

Chapter 12. Cut to Zionism: The Emergence of the Diamond Industry in British-Ruled Palestine
David DeVries

Notes on Contributors

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