Marcos Silber

Doctor Marcos Silber is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Jewish History, University of Haifa.

On the core of his academic interest is the relation between citizenship and ethnicity. He has written on Jewish Diaspora Nationalism in Poland, Lithuania, and Russia in early 20th century; on Yiddish and Polish mass culture in inter-war Poland and on Polish-Israeli relations and mutual migrations. His Major Publications includes Different nationality, Equal citizenship! The Efforts to Achieve Autonomy for Polish Jewry during the First World War (Hebrew, Tel Aviv 2014) and with Szymon Rudnicki: Polish-Israeli Diplomatic Relations, a selection of documents (1945 -1967) (Polish version Warsaw 2009, Hebrew version Jerusalem 2009).

Silber edited a collection of documents on Jewish National Councils in Eastern Europe in 1917-1919 that is scheduled to appear in 2020. Now is preparing a book on the transference of motifs between Polish Nationalism and Zionism.

Articles, among others, in: Galed, Michael, Journal of Baltic Studies, Journal of Israeli History, Polin, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, Shvut, Tzion, Yiunim le-Tekumat Israel, East European Jewish Affairs and elsewhere.

Research project: Zionism and Polish Nationalism: Transfer of the Motif of the Stateless Nation

What is a national culture? How is it formed, operate, get dispersed and reshaped? National ideologues tend to treat “culture” as a stable and “authentic” component of their society distinguishing their culture from others. Does this perception truly reflect reality?

Dr. Marcos Silber's research explores the tendency to transfer political culture, practices, and paradigms of nation and state-building from one culture in the making to another. It explores mutual transfer of cultural repertoires between Polish national culture and the emerging Jewish national culture in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries in the Polish lands and later on also in the State of Israel. It starts with those motifs perceived in Jewish and Polish national movements as central and even unique to their causes: the concept of the “stateless nation,” with its practical, political, and social manifestations.

The basic assumption of this research is that every transfer of motifs between Polish and Jewish/Zionist contexts involves (re)interpretation, a process which radically changes the original ideas rather than assimilating them unaltered. My principal hypothesis is that such mutual cultural transfers did in fact occur, Polish and Jewish national discourses adopting motifs, metaphors, and practices from one another and adapting them to their own needs. A field of transfer of motifs, metaphors, discourse, and practices in both directions was thus created.

The research attempts to offer new insights into the creation and recreation of “national culture” and its hybrid nature. The study will address the way in which individual, groups, and movements utilized symbolic or material assets considered “Polish” according to the “Israeli”/“Jewish”/“Zionist” view and “Israeli,” “Jewish,” or “Zionist” in the “Polish” case, adopting and adapting them to the new “soil.” How the process led to new practices, conceptualizations, and transformations in internal organizational structure, and prompted the development of new cultural patterns. A significant discussion will be included regarding the paths of cultural transfer, its agents, and the nature of the transferred assets – in overt and latent; intended and unintended, cultural transfer. Obviously, it will take into account the different paths, forms of development, and historical circumstances of Polish nationalism and Zionism, as well as addressing the force of the unintended results of the various historical processes and the disparity between the ideologies and their realization.

Dates of stay: 01 March - 31 July 2020