"Crude Creatures": The Representation of Black People in Yiddish Culture

Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Gil Ribak, FRIAS, Universität Freiburg

This talk examines the portrayal of Black people in Yiddish Culture. There was often a scathing gap between Yiddish writers and newspapers’ genuine horror about, and condemnation of lynchings, violence against Blacks, disenfranchisement and racial segregation on the one hand, and the ways in which they represented Black people on the other. Blacks did not seem as “America’s Jews” to Yiddish writers (as several scholars have claimed), but rather a reincarnation of Eastern European Slavic peasants. In addition to the Old World reservoir of images, Yiddish culture reflected the prevalent social and racial concepts of early-twentieth-century America, which had put “Nordics” at the helm of human progress, as well as common representations of Black people in popular culture. Thus one can find depictions in Yiddish culture of Blacks as cannibals, primitive creatures, oversexed, prone to violence, childlike, or just happy-go-lucky people. Both the Old World connotations and American entrenched patterns of displaying and enacting racial hierarchy led Yiddish writers, at times against their own ideologies, to reaffirm repeatedly America’s social order and imagery. My findings are significant not only to the field of Jewish Studies, but to the larger context of immigration history as well, as they show how would-be immigrants have preconceived imagery of Blacks prior to setting foot in America.

Die Veranstaltung findet hybrid statt: Anmeldung für das Live-Event hier | Zum YouTube-Livestream geht es hier.

Eintritt frei
Veranstaltungssprache: Englisch

Fr, 11.Mär.2022 um 19:00