Deploying Race against Assimilation: Horace Kallen Confronts Jews and America
(Conferences / Seminars / Lectures)
Presenter: Matthew Kaufman, Department of Religious Studies, MSU
One of the most pressing questions for America in the first two decades of the twentieth century was the question of how to assimilate the millions of immigrants into American society. The classic symbol of the "melting pot" was created at this time. Horace Kallen, an American Jewish philosopher who coined the term "cultural pluralism," felt a profound need to counter assimilationist trends in American Jewish society, and vigorously defended a racialized view of Jewish culture to promote an inclusive and pluralist social vision. Through an analysis of Kallen's racial ideas and his confrontations in the press, Kaufman will show how early twentieth century race science functioned as a tool for an academic to compete with rabbis for social and cultural authority. Co-sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies.