ACJC Research Seminar Series, Dr. Taylor Spence (Monash University), ‘Diasporic Jewish Agrarianism and Imperialist Expansion, 1880-1941’

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Date(s) - 18/09/2013
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm



18 September: Dr. Taylor Spence (Monash University), ‘Diasporic Jewish Agrarianism and Imperialist Expansion, 1880-1941’

taylorspenceIn response to violence committed against Jewish people in Russia beginning in the last decades of the nineteenth century, Jewish activists began to investigate possible solutions many of which centred on emigration and resettlement.  One of these proposed solutions was the resettlement of Russian Jews outside of Russia.  These Jewish resettlement programs took several forms.  But paralleling these programs were the ongoing and even expanding colonial and imperial projects of Great Britain, the United States, Canada, and Argentina.  These so-called “pioneer projects” entailed and required the settlement, occupation, and transformation of the land. Thus, Jewish philanthropists and these imperial nations found common cause in settling Russian Jews on contested territories they claimed.  Taylor Spence’s research looks at the confluence of these two movements in a comparative history of Jewish agrarians in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and Israel. His project seeks to understand how Jewish settlers served worldwide colonialisms as well as to understand how these settlement programs served and transformed late 19th century diasporic Judaism.

Dr. Taylor Spence graduated in 2012 with his doctorate in American History from Yale University.  He also has a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from the School of Visual Arts in New York.  After teaching last year at Sewanee, the University of the South in Tennessee, he has recently taken up an appointment in Monash’s History Program as a Lecturer.  This year he is the McColl Fellow at the American Geographical Society in Milwaukee Wisconsin where he will be working with historic cartography as he crafts the maps for his current book project-in-progress, The Endless Commons: The Borderland of North American Empires and the Origins of American Expansion, 1783-1845.