Anatomy of Antisemitism: Jews, Cadavers, and the Politics of Medical Discourse in East Central Europe

September 13, 2019 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Natalia Aleksiun, PhD
Professor of Modern Jewish History
Graduate School of Jewish Studies
Touro College

Abstract: This talk examines the conflict over dissections at European universities in the interwar period. Beginning in the early 1920s Christian and nationalist student organizations began to demand that Jewish communities provide “Jewish bodies” for dissections as a condition for admitting Jews to medical schools. They appealed to university authorities, and the broader public for support, organized demonstrations and engaged in violence targeting Jewish medical students at universities in Austria, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. This talk explores the relationship between modernity and the antisemitic imagination, arguing that the increasing visibility of Jews in medical schools constituted a challenge not only to the nation-building aspirations of new states, but also exposed intergenerational rifts between religious and secular elites within Jewish communities themselves. While pointing to the similarities and the gradual radicalization of the student movement across political borders, this talk explores the regional variations in medical cultures and Jewish communal responses.

Those wanting to join for lunch, as well as the talk, must RSVP to Sarah Koros by Sept 3.

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center and Jewish Studies Program.

Location and Address

Cathedral of Learning, 602