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Publisher Description

The field of American Jewish history is moving so quickly, and in such promising directions, that proposals for its reform that were once seen as provocative are now almost banal. This is the happy conclusion I draw from the comments of Hasia Diner, Paula Hyman, Alan Kraut, and Tony Michels. All four of these generous discussants exaggerate my own contribution to this transformation, but I am glad to be the occasion for a symposium that clarifies so many of the major issues in the study of American Jewish history. In this brief reply, I will take up several points made by my discussants that invite further conversation. Michels develops discerningly the contrast between philanthropically supported Jewish studies, as institutionalized in the late 1960s, and the several ethnoracially defined projects that gained their place in the academy in the same era, but in response to protest movements. Advocates of Jewish studies were less obliged from the start to argue for resources from a common institutional pool; they were not pressed to make a case for the significance of their field for constituencies beyond that field's formidable philanthropic base. Although the legacy of these antithetical circumstances of founding--Jewish studies at one extreme, black studies at the other--continues to be highly visible, there has been an important change. Many of these ethnic studies programs have gradually emancipated themselves from the culture of protest in which they were embedded and by which their integration into the rest of the academy was long impeded. This greater involvement of ethnic studies programs in mainstream academia creates a new and potentially very important opening for specialists in Jewish history: scholars in the other ethnoracially defined programs can be more open to what might be learned from colleagues studying the Jewish case, and vice-versa.

March 1
American Jewish Historical Society
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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