Diana Pinto: “A Jewish Space Called Europe”?

Online-Lecture and talk with Dr. Diana Pinto, Paris (in English)

It was in the mid-1990’s Diana Pinto coined the term “Jewish Space” to define one of the specificities of the Jewish presence/absence, ongoing creativity and memory inside what was at the time a rapidly expanding European setting. After the fall of the Berlin Wall a new whiff of democratic pluralism allowed Jews across the continent to define themselves well beyond their official Jewish representative institutions. “Jewish Spaces” emerged where Jewish themes, ideas, creativity, life, traditions, and history intersected with the wider society – in a diasporic setting in which, unlike Israel or the United States, non-Jews were also integral actors of these Spaces. At the same time, in the past thirty years, doubts about an ongoing Jewish future in the former lands of the Holocaust have never gone away. They have even increased with the return of antisemitism and the much publicized departure of many Jews (especially in France) to settle in Israel. For many, Europe was once a continent of Jewish life, but no longer. Diana Pinto counters this interpretation by explaining why Jewish Spaces across Europe are continuing to expand. The symbolic importance of these Jewish Spaces has even taken on a new relevance in light of the growing populism and right wing revisionism which has infected the entire Western world (including Israel and the US). In the battle between liberal democracy and illiberal populism, such Spaces are destined to play an ever more important role in anchoring pluralist reflexes and universal values across the Continent.

Diana Pinto is an intellectual historian and writer based in Paris. She is Italian, French and American and was educated at Harvard University (B.A. and Ph.D). In the 1990’s she was the Editor in Chief of Belvédère, a French pan-European review and subsequently a Consultant to the Political Directorate of the Council of Europe for its civil society programs in Eastern Europe and Russia. She subsequently directed the Ford Foundation’s Voices for the Res Publica program as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, London. She has lectured and written widely on European and Jewish topics and is the author of Israel has Moved (2013).

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