Dr. Avinoam Yuval Naeh
My research project addresses the early modern history of economic anti-Semitism, by examining the place of Jews and their image in the set of social concerns accompanying the processes of commercialization and capitalization of Western society. It focuses on England from the middle of the 17th century to the dawn of capitalism in the late 18th century as a case study of a society that thoroughly underwent these processes. The project analyzes the English discourse on the real and imagined economic characteristics of the Jews and England's political economy at the shifting period between early modernity to modernity. I demonstrate the decline of the traditional associations of Jews and economic perils (most notably usury) in the context of 17th century commercialization, and the subsequent rise of a new paradigm that attached Jewishness to the emerging financial system and its social flaws. I argue that the shift between these paradigms was far from natural or automatic, and depended on a set of changing circumstances and social needs. An article based on one of the chapters, entitled “England, Usury and the Jews in the Mid-Seventeenth Century,” is forthcoming (Dec. 2017) in the Journal of Early Modern History. My previous project dealt with Jews and crime in 18th century London, on which I have published the articles “Foreigners at the Gallows: Representing Jewishness in 18th-Century London Crime Literature,” in Historia (Summer 2012) and “Jewish Criminals in 18th-Century Britain and the Making of British Identity,” in Zmanim (Winter 2014).
Before joining the Vidal Sassoon Center as a Posen Fellow, I was a George Mosse Fellow in the Hebrew University and in UW-Madison, and a Rotenstreich Fellow. I am currently completing my dissertation in the History Department of the Hebrew University. I have completed my B.A (History, Magna Cum Laude, 2008) and M.A (European Studies, Summa Cum Laude, 2011), both in the Hebrew University.