Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Dr Doron Avraham

Visiting Research Fellow: 2024-25

Doron Avraham (PhD), Associate Professor, is a historian at the General History Department in Bar Ilan University, Israel. His main field of research and teaching is modern German history, with a focus on the history of political thought, nationalism, race and colonialism. His first book, In der Krise der Moderne: Der preussische Konservatismus im Zeitalter gesellschaftlicher Veränderungen, 1848-1876 (Wallstein 2008), was published in Germany. In 2020, he has published another book under the title German Neo-Pietism, the Nation and the Jews: Religious Awakening and National Identities Formation, 1815-1861 (Routledge 2020). He is also the author of a series of articles published in international journals. His current study focuses on German colonialism and Jews, and it has won two research grants from the Israel Science Foundation.


Project Description: Colonial Encounters: German Jews, the Colonial Other and the Dynamics of Hybrid Identity Formation, 1884-1919

My research investigates German Jews’ postures toward colonialism and rule over indigenous populations during Germany’s colonial expansion between 1884 and 1919. More specifically, it focuses on Jews’ conceptualisation of the colonial Other in Africa and Asia.

In the late nineteenth century, German Jews’ status appeared as fluctuating between colliding positions. First, they were the Other in the colonial metropolis, whose inferior status was constructed as part of the racialisation of the overseas colonial Other by the Germans. In this regard, Jews argued for a certain solidarity with Africans and Asians as all of them became victims of a German sense of racial superiority. Second, Jews were the Other in the colonial metropolis, thus helping to fashion the image of the Other in the overseas colonies. Seen from this perspective, Jews could not be considered only as those subjected to concepts of difference, but also as those who emphasised the otherness of the colonised, thus reasserting their own identity as Germans.

This research might shed different light on our understanding of the dynamics of German Jews’ identity development: it was also as a result of encounters with the colonial Other, who did not ‘exist’ before the German colonial venture started.

Although the investigation is primarily historical, it has anthropological, cultural and psychological aspects which provide nuanced picture of the intersection of Jews and German colonialism, and the consequences this bore for Jews’ identity.