Soviet Jewish Art and the East

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Course description

Term:  Second Semester (March 2, 2022 – June 24, 2022)

Lecturer: Prof. Maya Balakirsky Katz

Type:  Online (zoom) lecture accompanied by power point presentations; the course site available on moodle

Language of instruction: English



Jewish studies focusing on Ashkenazic Jews are overwhelmingly focused on the relationship between Jewish-born and Christian-born citizens, or between Jews and atheism; Jewish studies of oriental (“Mizrahi”) Jews usually focuses on the places of their origin, such as North Africa, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, or Egypt. We know relatively little about Jewish lives in the Soviet Republics with Muslim majorities. This is an unfortunate gap because the Soviet East played a seminal role on Jewish identity, not only in Central Asia but in Russia and Ukraine as well. This course examines the extraordinary richness that Jewish artists, both Sephardic and Ashkenazic, found in Central Asia and brought with them all over the world. 



To gain a basic understanding of the ways that Jewish artists interact with, shape, and reflect their setting among Muslim neighbors in Central Asia.


Teaching and Learning Method:

The course teaches the students how to improve critical analytic skills as they apply to the disciplines of Jewish studies and visual culture. 

Students will be expected to write a paper (5-7 pages) analyzing a work of art that represents “the East.”


Time: Tuesday 10:00-11:30

8.3 / 15.3/ 22.3 / 29.3 / 5.4 / 12.4 -19.4 (no classes) / 26.4 / 3.5 / 10.5 / 17.5 / 24.5 / 31.5 / 7.6 / 14.6/

21.6 /

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