Rebekka Grossmann is a postdoctoral fellow at the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History. Her research focusses on the intersections of Jewish political history, migratory mobility and global visual culture. Before joining the Franz Rosenzweig Center she was a Postdoctoral Tandem Fellow at the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research has also been supported by the George L. Mosse Program in History, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the Hebrew University and the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme. Her dissertation, which is currently transformed into a book manuscript, discusses photography as a space of formulations of concepts of national belonging in Jewish migratory history. Aspects of this research have been published for example in Jewish Social Studies and the Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook.
In my new project, I apply my interest in the role of Jewish negotiations of modern selfhood to the scale of global history approaches to European “Third World” activism. Titled Moving Worlds: German-Jewish Humanitarian Activism beyond the Imperial Age, 1920-1970, the study traces the engagement of German-Jewish travelers, migrants, and journalists with countries in the Global South. It demonstrates that the immediate encounters between German Jews and burgeoning anti-colonial movements sparked a vital exchange of ideas on local and global concepts of governance. A portrait of their global networks, emerging as part of displacement, journalistic engagement and grass-roots political activism the project asks how the emerging public debates on the North-South divide influenced both emerging Cold War “Third World” discourses and the status of Jewish concerns in post-war Western societies. Answers to these questions shall corroborate the argument that global German-Jewish mobilities shaped Western post-imperial imaginations towards hybrid understandings of nationhood. With its focus on German-Jewish photographers, journalists, and political figures including German-Jewish student activists that formed part of the World Union for Jewish Students this study offers the first long-durée examination of the mutual transfer of ideas between modern Jewish political activism and post-colonial resistance. By taking interwar Central European-Jewish realities as a vantage point this study connects early regional dynamics with the larger twentieth-century history of a commitment to global socio-political frameworks.