Jews, Europe, and the business of culture

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Women employees of Kaufhaus N. Israel. Pictured in the N. Israel album Arbeit und Erholung (1914). Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute.

A new special issue of the journal Jewish Culture and History focuses on the intersection between Business history and Jewish studies. As pointed out by guest editors Benito Peix Geldart, Maja Hultman and Anders Houltz in the Introduction, the five included articles discuss different expressions of Jewish entrepreneurship and economic activities, and their effects and constraints, in modern Europe.

The authors explore the correlation between Jewish businesses and local, national and European developments, ask how Europe’s historical relationship to Jews affected the everyday running of a Jewish business, and discuss how the business itself was used as a platform for cultural navigations with non-Jewish majorities. In other words, they provide examples of how businesses, apart from their role for economic survival and success, were activated for social and cultural purposes, and thus provide a window into the concrete reality of Jewish responses to, and participation in, a Europe with changing political, socio-cultural, and national landscapes.

The theme issue is based on papers presented during a two-day digital workshop organised on November 24–25, 2021, by the Research Department at the Centre for Business History and the Centre for European Research at the University of Gothenburg.

Articles included in the special issue: