This book is a study of the history and memory of Anglo-Jewry from medieval times to the present and explores the construction of identities, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in relation to the concept of place. The introductory chapters provide a theoretical overview focusing on the nature of local studies. The book then moves into a chronological frame, starting with medieval Winchester, moving to early modern Portsmouth, and then it covers the evolution of Anglo-Jewry from emancipation to the twentieth century. Emphasis is placed on the impact on identities resulting from the complex relationship between migration (including transmigration) and the settlement of minority groups. Drawing upon a range of approaches, including history, cultural and literary studies, geography, Jewish and ethnic and racial studies, the book uses extensive sources including novels, poems, art, travel literature, autobiographical writing, official documentation, newspapers and census data.
This chapter presents some concluding thoughts. British Jewish history has been regarded as being of minor importance, and its provincial experiences even more so. Yet the histories revealed in this book show the richness of previously neglected Jewish communities from the medieval era onwards. They show that the ‘global is everywhere and already, in one way or another, implicated in the local’. Moreover, this study has confirmed Sander Gilman's proposition that when ‘the center/periphery model is suspended, the frontier becomes the space where the complex interaction of the definitions of self and Other are able to be constructed’.
By the First World War, Southampton was beginning to rival Liverpool as Britain's leading transmigrant port. It provided routes to north and south Atlantic destinations, especially, from the 1890s, to eastern (and, to a lesser extent, southern and northern) European migrants who had broken their journey in England. Transmigrancy was big business. It has been estimated that ‘The alien passenger, and in particular the transmigrant flows through Britain’ totalled one-third of all the passenger trade of British shipping companies. This chapter examines the memory work associated with the world's most famous ship, the Titanic, and Britain's most beloved airplane, the Spitfire—both with intimate connections to Southampton—in order to analyse the amnesia surrounding transmigrancy, and the ideological and cultural factors behind it.
This chapter explores the nature of liberal tolerance towards the Jews within Victorian politics. It focuses on the experiences of and responses to the two Emanuel families and the Abraham family. It asks whether these leading Jews accepted locally, and if so, on what terms?
Hidden narratives of Jewish settlement and movement in the inter-war years
In the period from the 1900s until the later 1930s, the Jewish population of Southampton more than tripled. According to the Jewish Year Book in 1905 there were twenty Jewish families in the town and in 1934 this had grown to sixty-five—a growth from around 100 individuals to over 300. Most of this increase was due to inward migration from other parts of Britain, most notably the East End of London. It reflected, as a pull factor, the growth of Southampton whose population increased from just over 100,000 to over 175,000 from 1901 to 1931. It also represented the push factor—the economic misery and intense competition within primary immigrant settlement areas such as the East End. While the fledgling Jewish communities of Basingstoke and Aldershot struggled to survive in the inter-war period, elsewhere in Hampshire those in Portsmouth and Bournemouth followed Southampton in receiving further influxes of east European origin Jews, many of whom had initially settled in London. It was Southampton Jewry, however, because of the late settlement of these new arrivals, that was particularly and perhaps uniquely transformed in the inter-war years. It is for this reason that the chapter focuses on this dynamic and unique south coast community.
This chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to reflect on the nature of local studies and explore the key question raised by Felix Driver and Raphael Samuel of whether it is ‘possible to maintain a sense of the uniqueness of localities, and the singularity of our attachments to them, without falling prey to introverted (and ultimately exclusionary) visions of the essence or spirit of places’? It then discusses ‘local’ and minority studies; ‘race’, community and local studies; and the evolution of Cornish studies.
Jews in Portsmouth during the long eighteenth century
This chapter analyzes the nature of an intriguing, if sometimes troubled, community of Port Jews, and its complex and multi-layered image inside and outside of Portsmouth. Ultimately it explores why particular memories of Portsmouth Jewry—as both a part of and apart from the town's dangerous ‘sailortown’ community—were so persistent in the nineteenth century and beyond. As was the case with the Jews of medieval Winchester, the representation of Portsmouth Jewry had, through the workings of place identity, a wider significance beyond the locality in question.
From the mid-nineteenth century through to the First World War, the Jewish world was re-shaped by mass migration resulting from a combination of factors—demographic and economic as well as the impact of persecution and discrimination. It was a part of a wider global shift in population from south to north and east to west that reflected the (uneven) impact of a new economic age and the forces of modernity that accompanied it. Britain, in spite of the large numbers settling there, has not featured prominently in Jewish historiography. Within the capital itself the focus has been largely on the East End at the expense of communities that developed in the West End and south of the river. This chapter provides alternative and critical narratives, thereby challenging those who limit Jewish migration to particular times and places. The dynamics of Jews on the move between and within countries and continents are far too multi-layered and intensive to be encapsulated in one story, even if as epic as the Lower East Side. It is only by incorporating the impact of Jewish migration where and when it is, perhaps, least expected that its full complexity and scope can be appreciated.
This chapter begins with a discussion of the concept of Hampshire studies. It considers the tradition of defining the essence and integrity of Hampshire, which is seen most clearly through various county magazines in Hampshire, especially after the Second World War. The chapter then discusses how those who have written and presented the Jewish past have perceived the local context and place identity within it. Local Jewish studies, especially in Britain, face a triple marginality. First, there is the antipathy, patronisation, or indifference of those working within ‘mainstream’ British or English history against minority studies. Second, within global Jewish studies similar attitudes towards the ‘local’ can be detected as within British historiography. Third, within British Jewish historiography and memory work more generally, reflecting power politics within the community as a whole, the provinces have been especially sidelined.
After the Norman invasion, an important and relatively sizeable Jewish community existed in Winchester until the nationwide expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. It was one of the earliest settlements, dating from at least the 1140s, and its size and significance grew thereafter, especially from the late twelfth century onwards when Jewish business activities had to be officially recorded in archae (chests), leading to concentration in certain towns. This chapter shows that while the historiography of Winchester Jewry is still relatively undeveloped, memory work associated with this medieval community is rich and multifaceted, providing unique insights into the construction of local, national, and imperial identities. Jews themselves have played an important role in the process of remembering, reinforcing as well as challenging wider perspectives on Winchester Jewry and adding further layers of complexity to its memory. The chapter also considers other minority groups within Winchester's history, especially the Huguenots, in order to allow a comparative approach and to enable an analysis of whether or not the memory and representation of the Jews is unique.