UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


Prof Michael Berkowitz

black and white photo of profesor berkowitz
Professor of Modern Jewish History


Tel: 020 7679 2814

(Photo: Frank Dabba Smith)


Professor Berkowitz, a native of Rochester, New York, received his BA from Hobart College (Geneva, New York) and his MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin (Madison). At Wisconsin he studied under the late George L. Mosse.

During his sabbatical year, 2016-17, he held fellowships from the Remarque Institute of New York University, the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM, Washington, DC), and Yad Vashem (Jerusalem).   Earlier he received research support from Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona (Tuscon), the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas (Austin), the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles), the British Society for the History of Science, USHMM, the British Academy, the University of London, the Leo Baeck Institute (New York)/DAAD, the American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati), the Wiener Library of Tel Aviv University, the University of Judaism (Los Angeles), and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

In addition to teaching, writing, and academic lectures Professor Berkowitz often addresses public audiences.  He has presented at Limmud in thel UK, South Africa (2016), and upcoming in Austalia (2018), and for the Jewish Genealogical Society.  On two occasions he has been awarded use of the Bloomsbury Theatre for shows related to his research.  The most recent was the Kurt Weil/Georg Kaiser opera buffa, The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken (February 2016), which was preceded by Theatre in the Theresienstadt Ghetto: Newly Discovered Works (co-produced with Lisa Peschel, February 2015). He has curated pop-up exhibitions, along with lectures, related to his book on Jews and photography in Britain at UCL's Art Museum and the Wiener Library.  His public engagement extends to the Armenian genocide, for which he delivered an address on Jews and Armenians as photographers and coordinated a special event on Armenian and Holocaust film (2016) for the Programme of Armenian Studies.  He was the academic advisor for an exhibition "Ghetto Warriors: Minority Boxers in Britain" at London's Jewish Museum (May-September 2007), including an extensive public programme and an exhibition catalogue.  A related follow-up exhibition was held in the cloisters of UCL (2013), which included a display on Berkowitz's interview with EastEnders' June Brown for the BBC series, Who Do You Think You Are?  

With an initial group of MS students, and later a team of BS engineers from UCL's department of Computer Science, Berkowitz has developed two apps on the history of London's Jewish East End, both of which were awarded prizes. 

His current long-range projects include the development of  a musical based on his photography research, and an exhibition to accompany the Kaunas, European Capital of Culture festivities beginning in 2022.


Michael Berkowitz is is currently preparing three books: 

  • Jews, photography, modernity
  • Washington's secret Hollywood connection during the Second World War
  • A Life of Leopold Godowsky, Jr:  revolutionary creativity from music to color film.  

 He is author of five monographs: 

  • Jews and Photography in Britain (University of Texas Press, 2015)
  • The Crime of My Very Existence: Nazism and the Myth of Jewish Criminality (University of California Press, 2007)
  • The Jewish Self-Image: American and British Perspectives, 1881-1939 (Reaktion Press, 2000) [US edition: The Jewish Self Image in the West (New York University Press, 2000)
  • Western Jewry and the Zionist Project, 1914-1933 (Cambridge University Press, 1997, 2002)
  • Zionist Culture and West European Jewry before the First World War (Cambridge University Press, 1993 and University of North Carolina Press, 1996). 

He is editor or co-editor of:

  • The Jewish Engagement with Photography, co-edited with Martin Roman Deppner (BIS-Verlag der Carl von Ossietzky Universität, 2017)
  • "We Are Here": New Approaches to Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany, co-edited with Avinoam J. Patt (Wayne State University Press, 2010)
  • Fighting Back? Jewish and Black Boxers in Britain, co-edited with Ruti Ungar (University College London), in association with The Jewish Museum, London)
  • Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond (Brill, 2004)
  • Forging Modern Jewish Identities: Public Faces and Private Struggles (Parkes-Wiener Series on Jewish Studies), co-edited with Susan L. Tananbaum and Sam W. Bloom (Valentine Mitchell, 2003).  

Since 2012 he has been editor of Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England (UCL Press).


Professor Berkowitz teaches at the BA, MA, and PhD levels.  He offers courses on modern Jewish history, including the history of the Holocaust, the history of Central European Jewry, and Jews in the English-speaking world.  

Visit Professor Berkowitz's full profile for additional information, publications, and achievements.