19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, No 13 (2011)

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Jews in the East End, Jews in the Polity, ‘The Jew’ in the Text

David Feldman


This essay considers the relationship of the Jewish East End to liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Liberalism is here understood both as a discourse and a set of practices concerned with governance. The idea that liberalism was intolerant of the Jews’ difference is an idea present in much recent writing by both historians and literary scholars. The essay subjects this idea to critical examination. Specifically, it considers the integration of Jews within practices of poor relief and education as well as the representation of Jews in the writing of social investigators such as Beatrice Potter.

(Image: Interior of a tailoring workshop in Christian Street in London’s East End, c. 1913. The image is part of the Jewish Museum’s online exhibition Jewish Britain: A History in 50 Objects. Credit: © Jewish Museum London)

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