Faculty Biography

Elizabeth ImberElizabeth E. Imber Biography
Assistant Professor, Department of History

Tel: 1-508-793-7254
Email: eimber@clarku.edu

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Elizabeth Imber received a B.A. (2009) and M.A. (2010) from Brandeis University and an M.A. (2013) and Ph.D. (2018) from Johns Hopkins University. Before joining the faculty at Clark University in 2019, she held the Berger-Neilsen Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies at The College of Idaho.

Current Research and Teaching

Professor Imber is a modern Jewish historian, with a particular interest in the cultural and political dimensions and intersections of Jewish history and European imperial history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her research focuses on the history of Zionism and Jewish nationalism; investigating and theorizing non-Zionism; Mandate Palestine; Jewish and Zionist conceptions of the “state”; and the relationship between socialism and imperialism. More broadly, she is interested in how everyday practices, personal and affective ties, and spaces of private and convivial interaction shape political experience. Professor Imber offers courses in Jewish history, British imperial history, and the history of modern Israel.

Her book project, Empire of Uncertainty: Jews, Zionism, and British Imperialism in the Age of Nationalism, 1917-1948, explores the multifaceted nature of Jewish politics in the British Empire during the rise of anticolonial national and transnational political movements. Though Jews in all modern empires grappled variously with imperial policies and burgeoning nationalisms, Jews in the British Empire after 1917 faced the unique situation of living under the power that controlled Palestine, the territory at the heart of Jewish political, cultural, and religious aspirations both in and beyond the empire. Empire of Uncertainty investigates how Jewish elites from three imperial sites—Mandate Palestine, India, and South Africa—understood the changing and potentially conflicting relationships between British imperialism, Zionism, and anticolonial (trans)nationalisms. The project argues that a consideration of the many possible fates of the British Empire—spanning from the persistence of imperial rule to the triumph of anticolonial political movements—was central to the ways both Zionists and non-Zionists imagined Jewish political futures in the interwar period. This negotiation of any number of potential outcomes produced a range of political behaviors, strategies, practices, and vocabularies that upon first glance seem paradoxical. The project shows that these ostensible contradictions and incongruities were in fact all part of a broad, shared horizon of uncertainty—uncertainty over Jewish national futures (varied and malleable as those visions were) and uncertainty over British imperial futures amidst the rise of anticolonial nationalisms.

Selected Publications

“Thinking through Empire: Interwar Zionism, British Imperialism, and the Future of the Jewish National Home,” Israel, forthcoming 2020 [Hebrew].

“A Late Imperial Elite Jewish Politics: Baghdadi Jews in British India and the Political Horizons of Empire and Nation,” Jewish Social Studies 23, no. 2 (February 2018): 48-85.