Dr. Avi-ram Tzoreff


Areas of specialization:

Modern Jewish History, Ottoman History, History of Palestine/Israel, Central European History


Areas of competence:

History of secularism, History of nationalism, Modern political thought, world literature.


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I am an historian of modern Jewish history, focused on the cultural and political history of Jews in Late Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine, Ottoman Iraq and Habsburg Galicia. I am interested mainly in the intersections of questions of religion and the critique of secularism, colonialism, nationalism, sovereignty and subjectivity.

My doctoral dissertation, Jewish-Arab Coexistence against the Secular Discourse: Theology, Politics and Literature in the Writings of Yehoshua Radler-Feldman (R. Binyamin, 1880-1957), focused on the critical political thought of the author R. Binyamin, who was one of the fiercest critics of Zionist settler-colonial policies and separatist cultural national repertoire, from within the Zionist movement itself. The focus on the marginal character of R. Binyamin enabled a critical examination of the connections between Zionist secular discourse and its nationalization of Jewish traditional notions of collectivity, its separatist policies, and the understanding of subjectivity in modern Hebrew literature.

Another focus of my research was on the history of Ottoman Baghdad in the nineteenth-century as a site of competing discourses and narratives of modernity, while Focusing on the character of R. Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad (1834-1909), who was one of the main figures in the Baghdadi Jewish community.

My current research, entitled Gerim and Giyur in Zionist Discourse: Negation, Nationalization and a Counter-discourse, discusses the ways in which the category of Giyur (conversion to Judaism) problematized the Zionist notion of secularized and nationalized Jewish collectivity. Giyur marked an option of joining the Jewish collective that challenged the aspiration for a pure organic national body, and illuminates the ways in which this secular collectivity was imagined alongside the lines of ethnicity and race.

I received my PhD from the Departure of Jewish History in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and I was a post-doctoral fellow at EUME (Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe), a research program at the Forum for transregional studies in Berlin.


Publications:

“Beyond the Boundaries of ‘The Land of the Deer’: R. Binyamin between Jewish and Arab Geographies”, Jerusalem Quarterly 82 (2020): 130-153.

“Reading the Arabian Nights in Modern Hebrew Literature: Judaism, Arabness and the City” Philological Encounters 5 (2020), pp. 223-253.

“The Political Theology of the Feminine Jew and Anti-Colonial Criticism in the Writings of Yehoshua Radler-Feldman (R. Binyamin) during the First World War”, Jewish Quarterly Review [forthcoming, 2020].

“Laughter, Empire and Transnationalism: Galicia as the Background for the Transnationalism Concept in Rabbi Binyamin’s Thought”, in: Bohadana Patlatyuk, Joanna Rozmus and Yuriy Remestwenski (Ed.), What Remains from Galicia? Continuities—Ruptures—Perspectives [forthcoming]

“Between Tanzimat and Emancipation: Competing Discourses of Modernity in the Writings of R. Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad” Jama’a [forthcoming] (Hebrew)