Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Why do pogroms occur in some localities and not in others? Jeffrey S. Kopstein, professor and chair of political science at University of California, Irvine examines a particularly brutal wave of violence that occurred across hundreds of predominantly Polish and Ukrainian communities in the aftermath of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and notes that while some communities erupted in anti-Jewish violence, most others remained quiescent.
Jeffrey S. Kopstein is professor and chair of political science at University of California, Irvine. His books include The Politics of Economic Decline in East Germany, 1945–1989 and Growing Apart?: America and Europe in the 21st Century. His newest book, co-authored with Jason Wittenberg,Intimate Violence is a novel social-scientific explanation of ethnic violence and the Holocaust. It locates the roots of violence in efforts to maintain Polish and Ukrainian dominance rather than in anti-Semitic hatred or revenge for communism. In doing so, it cuts through painful debates about relative victim-hood that are driven more by metaphysical beliefs in Jewish culpability than empirical evidence of perpetrators and victims. Along with his co-author, Kopstein concludes that pogroms were difficult to start, and local conditions in most places prevented their outbreak despite general anti-Semitism and the collapse of the central state. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of communities saw pogroms in 1941, and most ordinary gentiles never attacked Jews.Kopstein and Wittenberg shed new light on the sources of mass ethnic violence and the ways in which such gruesome acts might be avoided.
Professor Kopstein's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights at CMC.