Latvia’s Jewish Cultures before the Catastrophe | Iveta Leitane

Event time: 
Tuesday, April 16, 2024 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Rosenkranz Hall RKZ, 202 See map
115 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

The Yale Baltic Studies Program presents a talk on “Latvia’s Jewish Cultures before the Catastrophe” featuring Baltic Studies Juris Padegs Associate Research Scholar, Dr. Iveta Leitane.

Between two world wars, the Republic of Latvia, could be considered a center of intense cultural semiosis. The cultural life of Latvian Jews at the beginning of the 20th century until the Holocaust was vibrant, diverse and enriched by international contacts. Latvian Jewish literature was published in Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, Latvian and German, and included rabbinic and philosophical works. Visual arts and scholarship across disciplines of the humanities flourished in conditions of close relationship with the Jewish cultural life in Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, and Poland, revealing various levels of ‘own’ and ‘foreign’ elements and presenting a semiosis brimming with tension. Jewish cultures in Latvia assimilated critical and post-critical impulses from their own and surrounding culture and scholarship to varying degrees, thereby actively interpreting it and creating competing cultural models. A case study into this corner of European Jewish culture before the Catastrophe explores Jewish “cultural alliances” in Latvia: leftist ideas with various justifications, different branches of Zionism and territorialism, and clashing ideas about Judaism and Yidishkeyt.

Iveta Leitane had been Research Associate at the Department of Humanities, University of Latvia, in Riga, where she as a part of a research team just completed an intricate project on Gastropoetics in the Yiddish literature in Latvia. Previously Dr. Leitane taught in the capacity of Associate Professor at the Department of Theology, University of Latvia. Iveta Leitane is permanently affiliated with the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Latvia. In the intervening years she had been a Visiting Fellow and Research Associate at the Universities of Tubingen, Cologne, Bonn, Leipzig, Marburg, Princeton, Paris (GHI, EPHE) and Ružomberok. Iveta Leitane completed her Ph.D. at the University of Tubingen, Germany. Her dissertation examined the role different components of religion(s) played in the construction of national identity in the 19th and 20th centuries in Latvia. Dr. Leitane’s work focuses on Marburg Neo-Kantianism and the Jewish thought and culture in Baltics and Circumbaltics. She has published widely in the field of Judaic Studies, Religious Studies, Philosophy of Religion and Comparative Literature. She also has a long-standing interest in intellectual resistance movements in East and West. At Yale Dr. Leitane will complete her study, titled Latvia at the Crossroads of European Jewish Cultures: Mimesis, Difference, and Rapprochement.

Lunch will be provided.

In Person and on Zoom. Register below.
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