Antisemitic stereotypes of Jews as capitalists have hindered research into the economic dimension of the Jewish past. The figure of the Jew as trader and financier dominated the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But the economy has been central to Jewish life and the Jewish image in the world; Jews not only made money but spent money. This book is the first to investigate the intersection between consumption, identity, and Jewish history in Europe. It aims to examine the role and place of consumption within Jewish society and the ways consumerism generated and reinforced Jewish notions of belonging from the end of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the new millennium. It shows how the advances of modernization and secularization in the modern period increased the importance of consumption in Jewish life, making it a significant factor in the process of redefining Jewish identity.
Gideon Reuveni is Reader in History and Director of the Centre for German-Jewish studies at the University of Sussex. His central research and teaching interest is the cultural and social history of modern European and Jewish history.
Part I. Narratives of Belonging: 1. Producers, consumers, Jews and antisemitism in German historiography; 2. Ethnic marketing and consumer ambivalence in Weimar Germany; 3. The Jewish question and the changing regimes of consumption; 4. What makes a Jew happy? Longings, belongings and the spirit of modern consumerism; Part II. The Politics of Jewish Consumption: 5. Emancipation through consumption; 6. Boycott, economic rationality and Jewish consumers in interwar Germany; 7. Advertising national belonging; 8. The consumption of Jewish politics; Part III. Homo Judaicus Consumerus: 9. The cost of being Jewish; 10. Place and space of Jewish consumption; 11. The world of Jewish goods; 12. Spending power and its discontents; 13. Beyond consumerism: the bridge, the door and the cultural economy approach to Jewish history.