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Yiddish Paris: Staging Nation and Community in Interwar France

Hosted By: YIVO

Nick Underwood explores how left-wing Yiddish-speaking emigrants from Eastern Europe created a Yiddish diaspora nation in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s in his new publication, Yiddish Paris: Staging Nation and Community in Interwar France.

In this first full-length study of interwar Yiddish culture in France, Underwood argues that the emergence of a Yiddish Paris depended on “culture makers,” mostly Jews from Socialist and Communist backgrounds who created cultural and scholarly organizations and institutions, including the French branch of YIVO, theater troupes, choruses, and a pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair of 1937.

Yiddish Paris examines how these left-wing Yiddish-speaking Jews insisted that even in France, a country known for demanding the assimilation of immigrant and minority groups, they could remain a distinct group, part of a transnational Yiddish-speaking Jewish nation. Yet, in the process, they in fact created a French-inflected version of Jewish diaspora nationalism, finding allies among French intellectuals, largely on the left.

Join YIVO for a discussion of this publication with Underwood in conversation with Professor Laura Hobson Faure.

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