Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia

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9780801448621: Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia
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At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, a gradual shift occurred in the ways in which European governments managed their populations. In the Russian Empire, this transformation in governance meant that Jews could no longer remain a people apart. The identification of Jews by passports, vital statistics records, and censuses was tied to the growth and development of government institutions, the creation of elaborate record-keeping procedures, and the universalistic challenge of documenting populations.

In Jews and the Imperial State, Eugene M. Avrutin argues that the challenge of knowing who was Jewish and where Jews were, evolved from the everyday administrative concerns of managing territorial movement, ethnic diversity, and the maze of rights, special privileges, and temporary exemptions that composed the imperial legal code. Drawing on a wealth of previously unexplored archival materials, Avrutin tells the story of how one imperial population, the Jews, shaped the world in which they lived by negotiating with what were often perceived to be contradictory and highly restrictive laws and institutions.

Although scholars have long interpreted imperial policies toward Jews in essentially negative terms, this groundbreaking book shifts the focus by analyzing what the law made possible. Some Jews responded to the system of government by circumventing legal statutes, others by bribing, converting, or resorting to various forms of manipulations, and still others by appealing to the state with individual grievances and requests.

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About the Author:

Eugene M. Avrutin is Assistant Professor of Modern European Jewish History and Tobor Family Scholar in Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois. He is coeditor of Photographing the Jewish Nation.

Review:

"In recent years, scholars of late imperial Russia have paid considerable attention to the empire's nationalities issues and, in particular, the experience of its Jewish communities. This book, based largely on the author's use of regional and central archives in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev, is a significant contribution to the literature.... Much of this slender but delicately nuanced volume is devoted to exploring the creative ways that Jews used the instruments of the czarist regime to their own advantage: 'At times, Jews forged passports, refashioned their social identities, and even converted in an attempt to subvert a maze of legal codes.' The new documents, many Jews soon realized, were 'a ticket for participation in the imperial social order.'."

(Choice)

"Jews and the Imperial State is a concise and suggestive analysis of how tsarist bureaucrats attempted to make the People of the Book 'legible' in prerevolutionary Russia and how individual Jews in turn inscribed themselves into the imperial order. Rarely has a study of population management so richly captured the hidden effects of counting and classifying."

(Benjamin Nathans, author of Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia)

"This absorbing book is a fine contribution to the growing literature on official identification and the administrative life of the state, including its characteristic product, the paper document. Eugene M. Avrutin digs beneath the level of Jewish self-identity and the tsarist state's claim to regulate and integrate the Jewish community, and unravels the state's attempts to know and track Jews as individuals, without losing itself in the labyrinth of its own paper. With an indefatigable appetite for bureaucratic intricacy and a pleasing eye for detail, Avrutin shows the Russian state and its Jewish inhabitants engaged in a perpetual and often baffling tussle over the issue and accuracy of the identity documents that were increasingly indispensable in everyday life, from personal names to residence, from marriage to mobility."

(Jane Caplan, University of Oxford)

"This very important and timely book is a wonderfully illuminating study of the Russian state’s administrative culture and the gap between its aspirations and its capacities. Eugene M. Avrutin makes a substantial contribution to recent debates over the nature and extent of ‘imperial identity’ on the part of Russian subjects."

(Kenneth B. Moss, The Johns Hopkins University)

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, a gradual shift occurred in the ways in which European governments managed their populations. In the Russian Empire, this transformation in governance meant that Jews could no longer remain a people apart. The identification of Jews by passports, vital statistics records, and censuses was tied to the growth and development of government institutions, the creation of elaborate record-keeping procedures, and the universalistic challenge of documenting populations.In Jews and the Imperial State, Eugene M. Avrutin argues that the challenge of knowing who was Jewish and where Jews were, evolved from the everyday administrative concerns of managing territorial movement, ethnic diversity, and the maze of rights, special privileges, and temporary exemptions that composed the imperial legal code. Drawing on a wealth of previously unexplored archival materials, Avrutin tells the story of how one imperial population, the Jews, shaped the world in which they lived by negotiating with what were often perceived to be contradictory and highly restrictive laws and institutions.Although scholars have long interpreted imperial policies toward Jews in essentially negative terms, this groundbreaking book shifts the focus by analyzing what the law made possible. Some Jews responded to the system of government by circumventing legal statutes, others by bribing, converting, or resorting to various forms of manipulations, and still others by appealing to the state with individual grievances and requests. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780801448621

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2010. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. At the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, a gradual shift occurred in the ways in which European governments managed their populations. In the Russian Empire, this transformation in governance meant that Jews could no longer remain a people apart. The identification of Jews by passports, vital statistics records, and censuses was tied to the growth and development of government institutions, the creation of elaborate record-keeping procedures, and the universalistic challenge of documenting populations.In Jews and the Imperial State, Eugene M. Avrutin argues that the challenge of knowing who was Jewish and where Jews were, evolved from the everyday administrative concerns of managing territorial movement, ethnic diversity, and the maze of rights, special privileges, and temporary exemptions that composed the imperial legal code. Drawing on a wealth of previously unexplored archival materials, Avrutin tells the story of how one imperial population, the Jews, shaped the world in which they lived by negotiating with what were often perceived to be contradictory and highly restrictive laws and institutions.Although scholars have long interpreted imperial policies toward Jews in essentially negative terms, this groundbreaking book shifts the focus by analyzing what the law made possible. Some Jews responded to the system of government by circumventing legal statutes, others by bribing, converting, or resorting to various forms of manipulations, and still others by appealing to the state with individual grievances and requests. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780801448621

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