Revival of Jewish Studies in Eastern Europe: Participant Bios

Revival of Jewish Studies in Eastern Europe

pre-symposium activites | session 1 | session 2 | bios | full program (PDF)

Natalia Aleksiun is associate professor of modern Jewish history at Touro College, Graduate School of Jewish Studies, New York. She is also Assistant Professor of Modern History at the Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences. She studied Polish and Jewish history at the Warsaw University, the Graduate School of Social Studies in Warsaw and Hebrew University in Jerusalem and New York University. She received her doctorate from Warsaw University in 2001. Her dissertation won the Polish Prime Minister’s Award for doctoral students and appeared in print as Where to? The Zionist Movement in Poland, 1944-1950 (in Polish) in 2002. In 2010, she received her second doctorate from New York University based on her dissertation titled: “Ammunition in the Struggle for National Rights: Jewish Historians in Poland between the Two World Wars”. She was a co-editor of the 20th volume of Polin, devoted to the memory of the Holocaust. She published in Yad Vashem Studies, Polish Review, Dapim, East European Jewish Affairs, Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Polin, Gal Ed, East European Societies and Politics and German History. She is currently working on a book about the so-called cadaver affair at European Universities in the 1920s and 1930s and on a project dealing with daily lives of Jews in hiding in Galicia during the Holocaust.

Stephen Batalden is professor of history at Arizona State University and director of the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies. The ASU Melikian Center conducts a wide range of USAID, Department of Defense and Department of State sponsored international projects and is home to the Critical Languages Institute, a national center for instruction in less commonly taught East European and Eurasian languages. Batalden’s research and publications address issues in the religious and cultural history of southeastern Europe and Eurasia. Forthcoming in March 2013 is his latest book-length study, Russian Bible Wars (Cambridge University Press), a study of the political controversies attending translation of the modern Russian Bible.

Volker Benkert is a lecturer in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. Benkert studied history and English at the Universities of Bonn, Edinburgh, St. Petersburg and Fribourg. He graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Bonn and is currently completing his doctorate at the University of Potsdam, titled “Biographies in Transition. The last Children of the GDR Today.” His research focuses on the impact of sudden regime change on biographies in 20th century Germany and Europe. Furthermore, he is interested in the formation and function of discourses on the totalitarian past on an individual and collective level. Identifying pervasive discourse patterns particularly among ordinary Germans helps to reveal the transmission of often apologetic views of the past over generations.

Anna Cichopek-Gajraj is assistant professor of modern East European Jewish history at Arizona State University. Before joining ASU, she worked in Canada (University of Western Ontario) and Italy (as a postdoctoral fellow at the European University Institute in Florence). She earned her doctorate in history from the University of Michigan in 2008. Cichopek-Gajraj is interested in modern East European Jewish history (in particular Poland and Czechoslovakia/Slovakia), comparative and social history, theories of violence, nationalism and the aftermath of genocide. Her first book on the pogrom in Cracow in August 1945 was published in Polish in 2000. She is currently adapting her dissertation (on the relations between Jewish survivors and their non-Jewish neighbors in Poland and Slovakia after World War II) into a manuscript.

J. Eugene Clay studied Russian history at the University of Chicago, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. He serves as associate professor of religious studies at Arizona State University, where he writes and lectures about religious movements in Russia and Eurasia; the relationship between religion and nationalism; and the encounters of the world religions. His work has appeared in many scholarly journals, including Church History, Russian History and Cahiers du monde russe. He is currently completing a monograph about Russian Spiritual Christianity, whose adepts rejected the hierarchy, sacraments, fasts and icons of the state church to embrace a spiritual interpretation of the Bible and of Christian tradition.

Edward Dabrowa is professor of ancient history, director of the Institute of Jewish Studies and head of the Center of Ancient History at the Department of History at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland. From 2000-2012, he served as director of the Department of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University. His research covers the history of the Middle East, Mesopotamia and Iran from the fourth century B.C. to the fourth century A.D. Dabrowa is also interested in history of ancient Israel during the Second Temple, especially the Hasmonean era. His latest book on the subject, The Hasmoneans and their State: A Study in History, Ideology, and the Institutions, was published in 2010. He is also the editor-in-chief of Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia, the journal published by the Institute of Jewish Studies in Cracow. In 2010, he was elected President of the European Association for Jewish Studies for the 2014-2018 term.

Edyta Gawron is assistant professor in the Institute of Jewish Studies and head of the Centre for the Study of the History and Culture of Cracow Jews in the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. A specialist in the 20th century history of Polish Jews and Holocaust studies, she cooperates with various academic institutions and museums in Poland and abroad. Gawron is the president of the Board of Directors of Galicia Jewish Heritage Institute Foundation, which oversees the Galicia Jewish Museum in Cracow. She served on the design team which created the museum in the Oskar Schindler’s Factory (Cracow). A member of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Project’s Advisory Board, serves also as a consultant to the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland. The author of several publications on wartime and post-war history of Jews in Cracow, including the co-authored book Kraków Under Nazi Occupation 1939-1945. (Cracow 2011). She is also the author of the book Vlotsheve. Żydzi we Włoszczowie w latach 1867- 1942 [Vlotsheve. Jews in Wloszczowa in 1867-1942] (Włoszczowa 2000) and numerous articles concerning the history of Polish Jews in the 20th century.

Anna Holian is associate professor of modern European history at Arizona State University. She is a cultural, social and political historian of 20th century Europe, with a special interest in the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Her other key research interests are migration and displacement; architecture, urban planning and city life; nationalism and internationalism; and film studies. Her geographical area of specialization is Germany. However, her work ranges broadly across continental Europe and has a strong comparative and transnational dimension. She is the author of Between National Socialism and Soviet Communism: Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011).
Brian Horowitz is the Sizeler Family Chair Professor at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is the author of Jewish Philanthropy and Enlightenment in Late-Tsarist Russia and Empire Jews. A specialist on Zionism, he is now at work on a study of Vladimir Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Movement in the 1920s and 30s. Horowitz is the author of The Myth of A. S. Pushkin in Russia’s Silver Age (Northwestern University Press, 1996). He is also a recipient of several prestigious research fellowships, including a Fulbright award, the Alexander Von Humboldt award from the German government and a Yad Hanadiv fellowship for study at Hebrew University.

Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka is the Consul General of the Republic of Poland in New York since 2010. Between January 2006 and February 2010, she served first as an Undersecretary and, since April 2008, as a Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland in charge of social issues. Junczyk-Ziomecka graduated from the Law Department and post-graduate journalism studies at the University of Warsaw. During martial law in Poland, she was officially banned by the communist regime from working as a journalist. In 1982, she received the so-called one-way passport and left for the United States to join the émigré community of the former Solidarity members. In 2001, she was nominated the director for the development of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Starting in 2005, she became the deputy director of the Museum responsible for contacts with the Jewish and Polish communities in the United States and the promotion of the Museum’s project in Poland and abroad. She is the author of numerous articles in Polish and Polish-American press. She also co-authored a collection of reportages about the strikes in the Gdansk shipyard in August 1980 titled Twenty One Long Days, a book about Pope John Paul II A Man Among Us and How to Get to the United States and Survive.

Natan M. Meir is the Lorry I. Lokey Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University. His research interest is modern Jewish history, focusing on the social and cultural history of East European Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is the author of Kiev: Jewish Metropolis, 1861-1914 (Indiana University Press, 2010) and co-editor of Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History (Indiana, 2010). His articles have appeared in Jewish Quarterly Review and Slavic Review. Meir is currently working on a study of vulnerable and marginalized groups among East European Jews in the nineteenth century and he is a consultant for the Russian Jewish Museum of Moscow, which will open in November 2012. Prior to coming to Portland State, Meir taught at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. Meir received his doctorate in Jewish history from Columbia University in 2003.

Andrew Reed is a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University. His dissertation examines the life and scholarship of Daniil A. Khvol’son (1819-1911) and the Jewish Question in late imperial Russia. He holds master’s degrees in Slavonic Studies from the University of Oxford (2005) and in the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations from the University of Cambridge (2008). He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Brigham Young University (2004), and is the recipient of a National Security Education Program/David L. Boren Fellowship (2012-2013).

Hava Tirosh-Samuelson is professor of history, director of Jewish Studies and Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism at Arizona State University. She holds a doctorate in Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1978) and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from SUNY in Stony Brook, New York (1974). Prior to joining the faculty of Arizona State University, she taught at Indiana University (1991-1999), Emory University in Atlanta (1988-1991), Columbia University in New York (1982-1988) and Hebrew Union College in New York (1980-1982). In these institutions she has taught courses in Jewish history, Jewish philosophy and mysticism and Western religions for graduate and undergraduate students. Tirosh-Samuelson’s research focuses on medieval and early-modern Jewish intellectual history, with an emphasis on the interplay between philosophy and mysticism. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters in academic journals and edited volumes, she is the author of Between Worlds: The Life and Work of Rabbi David ben Judah Messer Leon (SUNY Press, 1991) that received the award of the Hebrew University for the best work in Jewish history for 1991 and the author of Happiness in Premodern Judaism: Virtue, Knowledge and Well-Being in Premodern Judaism (Hebrew Union College Press, 2003).

Mark Von Hagen is professor of history at Arizona State University School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS). In 2008 von Hagen was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (recently renamed to Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies). He has also served as director of SHPRS, chair of the history departments at ASU and Columbia University and as director of the Harriman Institute, also at Columbia University. He is the author of Soldiers in the Proletarian Dictatorship: The Red Army and the Soviet Socialist State, 1917-1930 (Cornell, 1990); co-edited (with Catherine Evtuhov, Boris Gasparov and Alexander Ospovat) Kazan, Moscow, St. Petersburg: Multiple Faces of the Russian Empire (Moscow, 1997); co-edited (with Karen Barkey) After Empire: Multiethnic Societies and Nation-Building: The Soviet Union and the Russian, Ottoman and Habsburg Empire (Westview, 1997); co-edited (with Andreas Kappeler, Zenon Kohut and Frank Sysyn) Culture, Nation, Identity: the Ukrainian-Russian Encounter (1600-1945) (Toronto, 2003); and co-edited (with Jane Burbank) Russian Empire: Space, People, Power, 1700-1930 (Indiana, 2007); War in a European Borderlands: Occupations and Occupation Plans in Galicia and Ukraine, 1914-1918 (University of Washington Press, 2007). He has also written articles and essays on topics in historiography, civil-military relations, nationality politics and minority history and cultural history. He teaches Russian and Eurasian history at ASU.