Conversations on Europe/CREES Lecture
Jeff Kopstein, professor of political science; and director, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
Further Information Why, after the outbreak of World War II in Eastern Europe, did the inhabitants of some communities erupt in violence against their Jewish neighbors? The greater degree of preexisting inter-communal polarization between Jews and the titular majority group, the more likely a pogrom. The proposition is examined based on an original data-set from interwar Poland. Where Jews supported ethnic parties that advocated minority cultural autonomy, the local populations perceived the Jews as an obstacle to the creation of a nation-state in which minorities acknowledge the right of the titular majority to impose its culture across a country’s entire territory. These communities became toxic. Where determined state elites could politically integrate minorities, pogroms were far less likely to occur. The results point to the theoretical importance of political assimilation and are also consistent with research that extols the virtues of interethnic civic engagement.
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Sponsors: CES-EUC, CREES, Department of Political Science.