Blog der Doktorandinnen und
Doktoranden am Dubnow-Institut


Narrative Miniatures


by Enrico Lucca, Caroline Jessen, Jan Gerber, Petra Gamke-Breitschopf,
Elisabeth Gallas, Jörg Deventer, and Nicolas Berg

This undertaking takes as point of departure a color woodcut created in 2011 by the artist Harald Alff, whose place of birth, Leipzig, forms a geographical focus in his oeuvre along with various places in Israel. His urban vistas, such as the one here depicting the new building of the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig at the center of the image, include views of Haifa and Yafo, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. With their distinctive horizontal and vertical structural lines typical of the Bauhaus style, they form recurring motives in Alff’s explorations of cityscapes. His artistic engagements with ostensibly well-known urban spaces reveal hidden pathways, sightlines, and temporal vistas – phenomena that also resonate in the historical writings of Yfaat Weiss.

Harald Alff, »Zentrum 3« (Leipzig), 2011; color woodcut. © With courtesy of Harald Alff.
Harald Alff, »Zentrum 3« (Leipzig), 2011; color woodcut. © With courtesy of Harald Alff.

With this Festblog, we thus aim to build on Yfaat Weiss’ signature approach of depicting historical themes as webs of narrative miniatures and vignettes. Starting from an object or an archival document, the contributions presented here will examine (hi)stories and questions from a micro-perspective, thereby reflecting not least of all the main interests of her own historical research: space and materiality, mobility and transfer, the history of objects and knowledge in the context of German and Central European, Jewish, and Israeli history.

The categories of space and concrete sites play a special role in this configuration. They have been a significant factor in a body of research that has always paid close attention to the geographical, social, cultural, political, and legal dimensions of spaces in order to understand historical constellations. Just as Yfaat Weiss herself works in and between different places, so she connects the epistemological traditions and academic cultures of Israel and Germany as well as connecting different languages and mentalities in her work. For this reason, our Festblog will feature contributions in three languages: Hebrew, English, and German.

If Yfaat Weiss had to name an aspect of a vibrant scholarly culture close to her heart, she would point to early career scholars and the decisive contribution they make to developing new insights and innovating scholarship. She is moreover explicitly committed to opening up the Dubnow Institute to the idea that newly generated knowledge by no means needs to be presented exclusively via text, between two book covers, but should also take the form of digital media and be used to create visual narrations.

Therefore, doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars from Yfaat Weiss’ various sites of activity, past and present – especially in Leipzig and Jerusalem – have come together to dedicate their own miniatures to her on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday. Beginning on 26 April 2022, this Festblog will feature a series of contributions spread in loose succession across the year, ultimately offering a mosaic-like picture of the intellectual impulses, inspirations, and mindscapes from which these contributions emerged.

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