The Quest for Jewish Assimilation in Modern Social Science
Routledge – 2008 – 206 pages
The transformation of the human sciences into the social sciences in the third part of the 19th century was closely related to attempts to develop and implement methods for dealing with social tensions and the rationalization of society. This book studies the connections between academic disciplines and notions of Jewish assimilation and integration and demonstrates that the quest for Jewish assimilation is linked to and built into the conceptual foundations of modern social science disciplines.
Focusing on two influential "assimilated" Jewish authors—anthropologist Franz Boas and sociologist Georg Simmel—this study shows that epistemological considerations underlie the authors’ respective evaluations of the Jews’ assimilation in German and American societies as a form of "group extinction" or as a form of "social identity." This conceptual model gives a new "key" to understanding pivotal issues in recent Jewish history and in the history of the social sciences.
"For historians of Germany and of the sciences as well as of Jews in that culture, this book provides important new insights into the way highly educated German-speaking Jews reflected upon and responded creatively to their very specific historical situation, ca. 1870–1914." -- SHOFAR, Vol. 18. No. 2, 2010
Introduction 1. Language, Culture, and the Representation of the Jews 2. Assimilation as Extinction: Race, Mixture, and Difference 3. From Assimilation to Difference 4. Objects, Definitions, and Assimilation 5. The Aesthetics of Jewish Assimilation: Form and Individuality 6. The "Jew": Object of Research and "Quilting Point". Conclusion
Amos Morris-Reich has been a research fellow at the Simon Dubnow Center, the University of Chicago, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He is currently the Polonsky Research Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.