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Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (review)

Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (review) Book Reviews Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia. By eugene m. avrutin. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2010. 232 pp. $39.95 (cloth). What's in a name? A great deal, for the Jews of nineteenth-century tsarist Russia, as Eugene M. Avrutin demonstrates in Jews and the Imperial State. When Americans today consider the process of name acquisition, Ellis Island usually comes to mind, where the impoverished masses of Eastern European immigrants anglicized their Old World monikers as a pragmatic step toward integration and as a symbolic act of embracing their new society. But in nineteenth-century Russia the practice of name ascription served other, more critical purposes, and, as Avrutin argues, it was an important tool for the Romanov government to regulate and define its ethnically diverse subjects. For the tsarist autocracy, documenting and controlling Jewish identity was an aspect of population management, part of a larger process of policing Russia, a massive empire that was becoming ungovernable, hovering over the precipice of uncontainable social rebellion and political revolution. The question of "who is a Jew" has been central to modern history, particularly after emancipation in Western and Central Europe eliminated the constraints that had impeded http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of World History University of Hawai'I Press

Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia (review)

Journal of World History , Volume 23 (1) – Jun 15, 2012

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-8050
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Abstract

Book Reviews Jews and the Imperial State: Identification Politics in Tsarist Russia. By eugene m. avrutin. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2010. 232 pp. $39.95 (cloth). What's in a name? A great deal, for the Jews of nineteenth-century tsarist Russia, as Eugene M. Avrutin demonstrates in Jews and the Imperial State. When Americans today consider the process of name acquisition, Ellis Island usually comes to mind, where the impoverished masses of Eastern European immigrants anglicized their Old World monikers as a pragmatic step toward integration and as a symbolic act of embracing their new society. But in nineteenth-century Russia the practice of name ascription served other, more critical purposes, and, as Avrutin argues, it was an important tool for the Romanov government to regulate and define its ethnically diverse subjects. For the tsarist autocracy, documenting and controlling Jewish identity was an aspect of population management, part of a larger process of policing Russia, a massive empire that was becoming ungovernable, hovering over the precipice of uncontainable social rebellion and political revolution. The question of "who is a Jew" has been central to modern history, particularly after emancipation in Western and Central Europe eliminated the constraints that had impeded

Journal

Journal of World HistoryUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jun 15, 2012

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