Practical Kabbalah and Practical Knowledge: Kabbalistic Manuals and Natural Knowledge in Early Modern East-Central Europe

An impressive handwritten codex at the National Library of Israel embodies the intricacies and peculiarities of crafting, reading, and transmitting practical knowledge in early modern Jewish contexts. The volume, known today as manuscript NLI 8º 1070, was likely produced in the 1730s somewhere in the Polish territories. A variety of local Polish-Ashkenazi traditions are well attested throughout the codex: vernacular and elite, theoretical and practical, of Jewish and Christian provenance, and transmitted mainly in Hebrew and Yiddish, but with elements of Latin, German, Polish, Russian, and Ruthenian. Continue reading “Practical Kabbalah and Practical Knowledge: Kabbalistic Manuals and Natural Knowledge in Early Modern East-Central Europe”

Calls and Grants

Call for Summer School Applications: Challenging the Sites of Knowledge: Medial and Pluri-Medial Configurations and Transformations

  • September 3–7, 2019, Graduate School of the Humanities, Universität Bern
  • Further Details
  • Deadline: April 30, 2019

Grant in Aid Awards for Immigration History Research Center Archives (IHRCA) at the University of Minnesota

  • Deadline: June 1, 2019

CFP: Extraction, Expropriation, Erasure? Knowledge Production in International Relations. Millenium: Journal of International Studies

  • October 19–20, 2019, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  • Deadline: June 30, 2019

Join the Army and Learn a Trade

U.S. Army recruitment poster from 1918, just after the Great War. One wonders how much the prospective recruit would have known about the far-flung U.S military activities indicated on the map. Uncle Sam, it seems, was banking on at least some interest in the greater world but even more on the attractiveness of the skills and more practical inducements he could offer. Source: Library of Congress, PPOC, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002719778/.

Practical Knowledge and Inner-German Migration

But within a week I’d already found work.
—Herr Winter
 

Citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) who moved to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in the 1980s later incorporated their migration experience into their biographies as success stories. When they relocated, they were between thirty and forty years old and had families. They migrated at a point in their lives when they had already acquired a lot of practical knowledge, if through experience in a different context. Their relocation was about much more than a change of residence, however. GDR citizens also had to come to terms with a new political system, bureaucracy, and society.[1] What practical knowledge could they use to master their new situation? How did they experience their initial encounters with the new system, their search for employment, and their children’s education? Continue reading “Practical Knowledge and Inner-German Migration”

Classical Knowledge, Power, and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Dutch Rabbinic Education

Tell me, o Muse, of the man . . .
— Homer
 

Francis Bacon’s belief that “knowledge is power” is one of the great epistemic mottos of all time. In early nineteenth-century Jewish Amsterdam, where civic emancipation had overturned the old corporate hierarchies, the rabbinic elite soon came to experience its merciless truth. In the newly established Kingdom of the Netherlands (1814), both their position and their expertise were pushed to the margins. To make things worse, the centralized organization of the newly constituted Israelite Denomination left no room for German-style Reform–Orthodox dualism. As a result, innovation and consolidation all took shape within a single, outwardly stable, yet inwardly polarized community, in which conservative rabbis and progressive lay executives vied for initiative and control. This perpetual state of discord posed high demands on a rabbi’s personal skills. It was no longer enough to be a competent teacher and judge; in order to survive, the rabbi had to become a kind of statesman. But what in his rabbinic experience would provide him with the wherewithal to become a politician? Continue reading “Classical Knowledge, Power, and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Dutch Rabbinic Education”