A Time to Gather

A Time to Gather : Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture

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How do people link the past to the present, marking continuity in the face of the fundamental discontinuities of history? A Time to Gather argues that historical records took on potent value in modern Jewish life as both sources of history and anchors of memory because archives presented one way of transmitting Jewish culture and history from one generation to another as well as making claims of access to an "authentic" Jewish culture. Indeed,
both before the Holocaust and in its aftermath, Jewish leaders around the world felt a shared imperative to muster the forces and resources of Jewish life and culture. It was a "time to gather," a feverish era of collecting and conflict in which archive making was both a response to the ruptures of modernity and a
mechanism for communities to express their cultural hegemony.

Jason Lustig explores these themes across the arc of the twentieth century by excavating three distinctive archival traditions, that of the Cairo Genizah (and its transfer to Cambridge in the 1890s), folkloristic efforts like those of YIVO, and the Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden (Central or Total Archive of the German Jews) formed in Berlin in 1905. Lustig presents archive-making as an organizing principle of twentieth-century Jewish culture, as a metaphor of great power and broad symbolic
meaning with the dispersion and gathering of documents falling in the context of the Jews' long diasporic history. In this light, creating archives was just as much about the future as it was about the past.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 162 x 245 x 25mm | 516g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019756352X
  • 9780197563526

Table of contents

1. Archival Totality in the Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden
2. Ingathering the Exiles of the Past? Bringing Archives to Jerusalem
3. An Archive of Diaspora at the 'Jerusalem on the Ohio'
4. Making the Past into History: Jewish Archives and Postwar Germany
5. Digitization, Virtual Collections, and Total Archives in the Twenty-First Century

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Review quote

A Time to Gather offers a fascinating and highly stimulating account on the centrality and function of the archive in the ruptured 20th century Jewish history. Based on an impressive range of empirical records the book provides epistemological and historical substance to the often acclaimed 'archival turn' in the Humanities. * Elisabeth Gallas, author of A Mortuary of Books: The Rescue of Jewish Culture after the Holocaust * George Orwell famously wrote that 'he who controls the past controls the future.' Jason Lustig's pathbreaking and deeply researched new study tells the story of how the archives from which we study modern Jewish history were formed by leaders who sought to shape this history following their own nationalist assumptions. Lustig deftly moves from Europe to Israel to America and back again, tracing the competing efforts to build the ultimate 'total archive' and thereby
shape the future of the Jews by controlling the relics of its past. There is simply no study like it. * Joshua Shanes, author of Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish Identity in Habsburg Galicia * With incredible depth of research and force of analysis, Lustig draws readers' attention to the stuff-the 'epistemic things'-that allow them to know their pasts. He argues that the process of creating an archive is as much about preserving the past as it is about making a claim on the present and future. Leading the reader across the twentieth century, from Germany to Jerusalem to Cincinnati and New York and, finally, to the cloud, Lustig tells the story
of how modern Jews gathered their past to make sense of an era of destruction and tumult. * Lila Corwin Berman, author of The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution *
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About Jason Lustig

Jason Lustig is a Lecturer and Israel Institute Teaching Fellow at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the host and creator of the Jewish History Matters podcast. He was previously a Harry Starr Fellow in Judaica at Harvard University's Center for Jewish Studies and a Gerald Westheimer Early Career Fellow at the Leo Baeck Institute.
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