The Politics and Ideology of Jewish Agricultural Colonies in 19th Century America

Author(s): Tatiana Niculescu

Year: 2014


Historians have long debated whether the Jewish agricultural colonies (JACs) that arose in 19th century America were utopian communities or founded on some other ideological basis. High modernism, a popular ideology at this time, was based on four main tenets: a strong confidence in scientific progress; attempts to master nature to meet human needs; an emphasis on rendering complex environments or concepts legible; and a disregard for geographical and social contexts. I argue that JACs were instances of these principles being taken up and implemented by a rather unlikely group of individuals and that the ultimate decline of many of these communities was not due only to isolated weather, financial or social events, but rather to the inherent problems surrounding these types of ideological endeavors. Like much of American Jewish history in the Diaspora, these communities are just now being approached from an anthropological angle focused on the landscape relations and material practices of the group. Taking each of the four tenets of high modernism in turn, I will show how these ideological underpinnings may have impacted the material remains recoverable today.

Cite this Record

The Politics and Ideology of Jewish Agricultural Colonies in 19th Century America. Tatiana Niculescu. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436787)

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-23,04