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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Gendered Integration? Jewish Women's Encounters with Scandinavia, 1900-1940

Awarded: NOK 1.3 mill.


The experience of Jewish integration in local Scandinavian society in the pre-World War II period is often considered to be an illustrative example of a successful strategy pursued by an immigrant group. However, the role of women in these processes has n ot been systematically studied. There was considerable emigration from Eastern Europe to both countries from around 1900 and a major change in Norwegian Jewish demography followed the Holocaust. How did Jewish integration actually take place in Norway and Sweden between 1900 and 1940, and to what extent were the integration processes gendered? The study is located in the intersection of migration, gender, labour, family and Jewish history, and critically examines the emphasis by some scholars on bourgeo is values as a means of inclusion. The Jews were the first major immigrant group with a distinctly different ethnic and religious background that settled in Scandinavia. And given the heated debates on integration (especially the role of women) that have taken place in recent years, I will aim to better understand the integration strategies pursued by Jewish women in pre-WWII Norway and Sweden. The study has three key components: the construction of gender among Jews, voluntary charitable work within Jewi sh organisations and female participation in the wage labour market. These will be analysed in the context of the possibilities and restrictions within Judaism and Jewish and non-Jewish culture and traditions. With its comparative focus and identificatio n of possible gender-related structures and roles in pre-WWII Norwegian and Swedish societies, this study will not only contribute towards an improved understanding of the role, experience and contribution of women from minority groups in general -- a per spective usually missing in Scandinavian historical research on gender -- but also shed more light on the content and impact of integration strategies in particular.

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam