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Potomac Books


Inventing the Jew, Inventing the Jew, 0803220987, 0-8032-2098-7, 978-0-8032-2098-0, 9780803220980, Andrei Oisteanu Foreword by Moshe Idel Translated by Mirela Adascalitei , Studies in Antisemitism, Inventing the Jew, 0803224613, 0-8032-2461-3, 978-0-8032-2461-2, 9780803224612, Andrei Oisteanu Foreword by Moshe Idel Translated by Mirela Adascalitei , Studies in Antisemitis

Inventing the Jew
Antisemitic Stereotypes in Romanian and Other Central-East European Cultures
Andrei Oisteanu
Foreword by Moshe Idel
Translated by Mirela Adascalitei

2009. 480 pp.
$60.00 s

Inventing the Jew follows the evolution of stereotypes of Jews from the level of traditional Romanian and other Central-East European cultures (their legends, fairy tales, ballads, carols, anecdotes, superstitions, and iconographic representations) to that of “high” cultures (including literature, essays, journalism, and sociopolitical writings), showing how motifs specific to “folkloric antisemitism” migrated to “intellectual antisemitism.” This comparative perspective also highlights how the images of Jews have differed from that of other “strangers” such as Hungarians, Germans, Roma, Turks, Armenians, and Greeks. The gap between the conception of the “imaginary Jew” and the “real Jew” is a cultural distance that differs over time and place, here seen through the lens of cultural anthropology.

Stereotypes of the “generic Jew” were not exclusively negative, and are described in five chapters depicting physical, occupational, moral and intellectual, mythical and magical, and religious portraits of “the Jew.”

Andrei Oisteanu is a researcher at the Institute for the History of Religions in Bucharest, and associate professor at the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Bucharest. He is the author of several books, including The Image of the Jew in Romanian Culture, Order and Chaos: Myth and Magic in Romanian Traditional Culture, and Religion, Politics, and Myth: Texts about Mircea Eliade and Ioan Petru Culianu.

"Inventing the Jew is a necessary book. Nobody interested in the history (past and present) of Eastern and Central European anti-Semitism, radical nationalism and ethnocentric populism should miss it."—Vladimir Tismaneanu, Times Literary Supplement

"[Andrei Oisteanu] has produced a superb piece of research which will serve as a fundamental resource for future work on the cultural roots of ideas about Jews, not just in Romania but in the wider East European context."—Alex Drace-Francis, Eastern European Jewish Affairs

"This monograph has much to offer to scholars and graduate students not only of East European and Jewish Studies, but also of Ethnic Studies and Cultural Anthropology."—Joanna B. Michlic, American Historical Review

"Inventing the Jew is an outstanding contribution to the study of images of the "imaginary Jew" in Romania and an important book for those who are interested in cultural perceptions of Jews in Eastern and Central Europe."—Günther Jikeli, Journal for the Study of Antisemitism

"This work of cultural anthropology is unparalleled in scope and interest for a whole range of disciplines."—Peter Sherwood, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"Historians eager to explain the operation of anti-Jewish politics in a particular time and place would do well to study Oisteanu's rich inventory of anti-Jewish myths and stereotypes. His account of the depth, variety, and longevity of antisemitic stereotypes is a well-taken reminder of how powerful and widely felt the image of the Jew as “Other” has been and continues to be in the region."—Paul Hanebrink, Journal of Modern History

Winner of the 2011 Alexandru D. Xenopol prize awarded by the Romanian Academy
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