Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Interwar Paris was an immigrant city. By the 1930s, Paris was home to approximately two million immigrants. Around 150,000 of these were Yiddish-speaking Jews from Eastern Europe who used Paris as the basis for a new Western European-influenced Yiddishism and Diaspora Nationalism. I demonstrate how France–the supposed home of an assimilationist model of national belonging–provided fertile ground for an alternative Yiddishist and Jewish Diaspora Nationalist identity. This was an Eastern European, Jewish community ideal grafted onto a French Republican notion of belonging. Using sources ranging from Yiddish theatre and chorus documents to Yiddish-, French-, and German-language newspapers, Jewish cultural institutions' records, and French police reports, I show how cultural productions brought together Jewish, French, and antifascist cultural norms in a way that helped Jews who immigrated to Paris from Eastern Europe define their community as simultaneously nationally Jewish and civically French. This new communal sensibility enabled these immigrant Jews to plant roots of resistance that would carry through Vichy and the occupation of France. Moreover, my focus on cultural identities and investigation into Jewish, pan-Leftist politics and cultural cooperation questions scholars' suggestions that communist politics held a monopoly over Leftist culture in 1930s Popular Front Paris. I argue that within immigrant Eastern European Jewish cultural circles, communal cohesion took precedence over supporting a particular party line in the face of rising fascism.
Underwood, Nicholas Lee, "Staging a New Community: Immigrant Yiddish Culture and Diaspora Nationalism in Interwar Paris, 1919-1940" (2016). History Graduate Theses & Dissertations. 35.