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Refuseniks & Rights Defenders: Jews & the Soviet Dissident Movement

This lecture series, made possible by The Lowe Family Holocaust and Genocide Education Endowment, is designed to foster understanding, and to disseminate knowledge, about the causes and conditions that foster genocides, including the Holocaust and to generate public awareness about the danger of authoritarian, totalitarian and nationalistic regimes to the future of humanity.

lecture by Benjamin Nathans University of Pennsylvania

March 18, 2019 | 7 p.m.
Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center
Arizona Jewish Historical Society
122 East Culver Street, Phoenix
free and open to all
reservations required

The exodus of Jews from the former Soviet Union transformed the Jewish landscape on three continents and has been called the preeminent case of Jewish human rights activism. It is often identified — and confused — with the Soviet dissident movement and the struggle for rights in Russia. What brought the two movements together — and what kept them apart? This talk explores the ideas, the people, and the politics that animated the most consequential forms of resistance to the 20th century’s longest-lived experiment in totalitarian rule, and their consequences for the world today.

Benjamin Nathans is associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in modern Russia, the Soviet Union, modern Jewish history, and the history of human rights.  His multiple prizewinning book Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia has been translated into Hebrew and Russian.  He is currently completing a work entitled To the Success of Our Hopeless Cause: A History of the Soviet Dissident Movement, as well as a co-edited volume, From Europe’s East to the Middle East: Israel’s Russian and Polish Lineages. Nathans chaired the international committee of scholars hired by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the New York-based museum design firm, to help create the Jewish Museum in Moscow, which opened in 2012.  His essays have appeared in The Economist, The New York Review of BooksThe Nation, The London Review of Books, the International Herald Tribune, and other publications.  

This lecture is made possible by The Lowe Family Holocaust and Genocide Education Endowment, ASU Jewish Studies and support by the ASU Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies.