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The Jargon of Hegemony: a book talk and rare book workshop

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Book Talk and Rare Book Workshop: The Jargon of Hegemony: a book talk and rare book workshop on cultural appropriation and repatriation

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The Dr. Michael D. Paul Rare Books Initiative presents

Book talk: Contested Heritage: Jewish Cultural Property after 1945 – Caroline Jessen

In the wake of the Nazi regime’s policies, European Jewish cultural property was dispersed, dislocated, and destroyed. Books, manuscripts, and artworks were either taken by their fleeing owners and were transferred to different places worldwide, or they fell prey to systematic looting and destruction under German occupation. Until today, a significant amount of items can be found in private and public collections in Germany as well as abroad with an unclear or disputed provenance. This book illuminates the political and cultural implications of Jewish cultural property looted and displaced during the Holocaust. which address a wide range of topics: from the shifting meaning and character of the objects themselves, the so-called object biographies, their restitution processes after 1945, conflicting ideas about their appropriate location, political interests in their preservation, actors and networks involved in salvage operations, to questions of intellectual and cultural transfer processes revolving around the moving objects and their literary resonances.

Caroline Jessen is the Head of Collections and Circulation at The German Literature Archive Marbach, one of the leading collecting & research institutions of its kind. In October 2021, Caroline will join the research team of the Leibniz Institute for Jewish History and Culture – Simon Dubnow (DI). The institute is dedicated to interdisciplinary research across multiple eras of Jewish life worlds in Central and Eastern Europe, from the Middle Ages through to the present. This research adopts a pan-European perspective and includes areas of Jewish emigration, especially Israel as well as North and Latin America. At the DI, Caroline Jessen’s work focuses on projects devoted to the study of material culture and provenance research.

Repatriatriating the orphans: The Provenance of the JPL’s Rare Book Collection – Nicole Beaudry, Eddie Paul

The Offenbach Archival Depot, and the repatriation efforts of the US Military Government Office and the Jewish Joint Restitution Organization (which was staffed by people like Hannah Arendt, Gershon Scholem, Lucy Dawidowicz and Salo Baron) were tasked with relocating the looted books, manuscripts, and artifacts to their countries of origin after the war. This was problematic in many cases because countries like Russia, Poland, and what became the eastern bloc no longer had significant Jewish populations and/or had installed governments that were clearly hostile to Jews. The repatriation effort used various means to transport these books to pre-1948 Israel, western Europe, and the United States. In Canada, the largest proportion of books were secured by an agreement with Canadian Jewish Congress who arranged to send 1,500 volumes of rare Judaica to the Jewish Public Library, the largest proportion of books sent to any library in Canada.

Nicole Beaudry worked at the Jewish Public Library for 6 years in various departments, but most notably as one of the primary facilitators and researchers with the Dr. Michael D. Paul Rare Books Initiative. Eddie Paul is the Senior Director of Library & Learning Services at the JPL, and developed the rare books workshop programme in 2014 which bring the librarians and volumes from the rare books collection to synagogues, churches, schools, universities, community centres, and other organizations.

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