First book authored by Professor Sloin at Weissman School of Arts and Sciences among this year’s winners from more than 1,500 finalists
Andrew Sloin, an associate professor of history at Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, was awarded the American Historical Association’s (AHA) 2018 Dorothy Rosenberg Prize for his first book The Jewish Revolution in Belorussia: Economy, Race, and Bolshevik Power.
The AHA offers annual prizes honoring “exceptional books, distinguished teaching and mentoring in the classroom, public history, and other historical projects.” The Dorothy Rosenberg Prize recognizes the most distinguished work of scholarship on the history of the Jewish diaspora published in English during the previous calendar year.
AHA’s prize committee considered more than 1,500 finalists for all of the 2018 awards. Since 1896, the Association has conferred over a thousand awards.
Political Transformation after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917
Sloin’s book focuses on the economic and political transformation of Belorussian Jewry in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. The story follows the arc of Bolshevik history but shows how the broader movement was enacted in factories and workshops, workers’ clubs and union meetings, and on the Jewish streets of White Russia (present-day Belarus).
The book’s characters are shoemakers, speculators, glassmakers, peddlers, leatherworkers, needleworkers, soldiers, students, and local party operatives who joined the Bolshevik project. Sloin emphasizes the fundamental relationship between economy and identity formation as officials dealt with the Jewish Question in the wake of the revolution.
WATCH: In this “Weisman College Talk” video interview, the School’s Dean Aldemaro Romero, Jr. interviews Professor Sloin about his interest in history, teaching students at Baruch College, and his research for his first book.
“What made writing about Belorussia so appealing to me was the fact it was a place in the center of what was the old Jewish-Pale settlement, and so it was the area of the former Russian empire where most Jews were confined legally to reside,” Sloin said in the video. “When the revolutions came in 1917, there was a particular dynamic where you had a revolution that broke out in a multinational region where Belorussians, Ukrainians, Russians, Pols, and Jews played a prominent role in the revolution.
Sloin added, “After the revolution, Jews became a very prominent political factor in both Soviet and Bolshevik party life. And Belorussia actually became one of the few places to recognize Yiddish as one of four national languages. So the national dynamics and history of the region make it a particular unique case that I would argue is quite exceptional for thinking about that tension between politics and nationality in the Soviet Union.”
At Baruch College, Sloin specializes in teaching about Russian, East European, Soviet, and Jewish history. His research focuses on the relationship between economy, politics, and culture in the Soviet Union during the interwar period.
Sloin’s Next Book: Examining the Writing of History
Sloin is working on his second book, which will examine the relationship between the writing of popular history in the transnational Yiddish public sphere and the development of Jewish Socialist politics between 1871 and 1948. This project will utilize Yiddish pamphlets produced in centers of Yiddish life throughout the Jewish Diaspora.
“In this book, I plan to examine how the writing of history itself became an explicitly political practice through which radical intellectuals sought to construct new concepts of community, internationalism, and emancipation in a period beset by recurrent, systemic political and economic crisis,” Sloin said. “The goal of the book is to examine how this new medium of global communication served to create new forms of Jewish, internationalist historical consciousness.”
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