Erin CORBER

Academic Year:
2015/2016

Research Program:
NEC International

Country:
Canada

Research project: Fear and Loathing in the Rhineland: The Social Life of Anti-Semitism in Alsace-Lorraine, 1933-1940

This will be the first book to explore anti-Semitism in the eastern French provinces between the rise of Nazi Germany and the fall of France. France’s nineteenth century traditions of racial thinking evolved into political, economic, and social discrimination apparent in the proliferation of Right-Wing leagues and homegrown proto-fascist movements following the First World War, a history often understood exclusively from Paris. In the Franco-German borderlands, anti-Semitic ideas and practices developed in a unique context. This project builds on insight from my doctoral thesis on the revitalization of Jewish life in interwar France, which often took place outside the capital, and will offer a novel analysis of the development of anti-Semitism in small towns and cities between France and Germany during the refugee crises of the 1930s. This study of ideas and practices in a European borderland defies simple narratives of European nationalism and challenges us to think beyond established templates of the Jewish Question in the modern state and its capital city. The book will show that far from being a German import or solely a priority of governmental officials in Paris, French anti-Semitism had roots in everyday interactions in local settings outside the capital. Part 1 will trace a genealogy of anti-Semitism in eastern France from the mid-nineteenth century through the interwar years. Part 2 will examine cases of local criminal activity in which anti-Semitism played a role. Part 3 will explore the local economic world shared by Jews and non-Jews to test how cultural, political, and criminal ideas took shape in everyday life.