Sarah Abrevaya Stein: “In Search of a Novel Archive of the Jewish Past”

February 24, 2011
Humanities 1
12:00-1:00 PM

What sources are essential to the study of the Jewish past? Where can they be found? In this talk, Sarah Abrevaya Stein discusses her on-going efforts to stretch the linguistic, geographic, and conceptual boundaries of the Jewish past, offering a scholarly travelogue of novel archives of Jewish history.


Sarah Abrevaya Stein is Professor and Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies at the Department of History at UCLA. Co-winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for 2010, she received her A.B. from Brown University in 1993 and her doctorate from Stanford University in 1999. Her scholarship has ranged across the Yiddish and Ladino speaking diasporas and the European, Russian, American, Ottoman and wider Mediterranean settings, but is always engaged with the reasons for and manifestations of Jewish cultural diversity in the modern period. Stein is the author of Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce (Yale University Press, 2008), winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and Making Jews Modern: the Yiddish and Ladino Press in the Russian and Ottoman Empires (Indiana University Press, hardback 2004, paperback 2006), winner of the Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize for Best First Book in Jewish Studies for 2003 and finalist for the Koret Jewish Book Award in 2004.


Stein is now working on three book projects. With the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, she is now writing Misfits: Classifying Jews and the Persistence of Empire, a book that explores Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Jewish encounters with evolving legal systems whose shaping accompanied the dismantling, persistence, and transformation of empires across the globe over the course of the twentieth century. With Julia Phillips Cohen (Vanderbilt University) and the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant, Stein is also co-editing The Sephardic Studies Reader: 1730-1950 (Stanford University Press, forthcoming). This documentary reader will feature over 300 translated, original sources written over the course of two centuries by or about Sephardic Jews in the heartland of modern Judeo-Spanish culture (the Balkans, Palestine, and Turkey under Ottoman and post-Ottoman rule) and in crucial hubs of the Judeo-Spanish diaspora. Finally, with Aron Rodrigue, Stein is co-editing An Ottoman Rebel: Sa’adi Besalel ha-Levi and Jewish Salonica in the Nineteenth Century (Stanford University Press, 2011), which will present an annotated translation of the first known memoir in Ladino.


Sarah Abrevaya Stein’s talk is presented by the Center for Jewish Studies with generous support by the David B. Gold Foundation.