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Forget Assimilation: Introducing Subjectivity to German-Jewish History

Scott Spector
Jewish History
Vol. 20, No. 3/4 (2006), pp. 349-361
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20100990
Page Count: 13
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Forget Assimilation: Introducing Subjectivity to German-Jewish History
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Abstract

Between the Enlightenment and the Holocaust, a wide range of German-speaking Jewish subjects shared certain assumptions about a problematic associated with being Jewish and living in a non-Jewish German society (and the concomitant process of relative "assimilation"). The categories of identity and culture that undergirded this problematic became part of a shared lexicon of a German-Jewish "identity crisis"--a lexicon that was handed down to the historiography of German Jews that would develop after the community's destruction. The author of this contribution challenges the validity of some of these categorical assumptions by setting them against the varied background of German-Jewish experience in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, offering a model of subjectivity (rather than identity) that might allow the historiography to break out of the cyclical repetition in which it currently finds itself. By examining specific exemplars, including Gershom Scholem, Edith Stein, Martin Buber, and others, the author models a reading strategy that would be appropriate for German-Jewish subjectivity.

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