Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond

Ritual Murder in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond

New Histories of an Old Accusation
Edited by Eugene M. Avrutin, Jonathan Dekel-Chen, and Robert Weinberg
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/12/2017
Format: paper 302 pages, 11 b&w illus., 1 map
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-02640-8
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This innovative reassessment of ritual murder accusations brings together scholars working in history, folklore, ethnography, and literature. Favoring dynamic explanations of the mechanisms, evolution, popular appeal, and responses to the blood libel, the essays rigorously engage with the larger social and cultural worlds that made these phenomena possible. In doing so, the book helps to explain why blood libel accusations continued to spread in Europe even after modernization seemingly made them obsolete. Drawing on untapped and unconventional historical sources, the collection explores a range of intriguing topics: popular belief and scientific knowledge; the connections between antisemitism, prejudice, and violence; the rule of law versus the power of rumors; the politics of memory; and humanitarian intervention on a global scale.

Author Bio

Eugene M. Avrutin is Associate Professor of History at the University of Illinois.

Dekel-Chen is Professor of History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Weinberg is Professor of History at Swarthmore College.


"While the topic was not exactly novel to me, I enjoyed reading this book and I was constantly learning from the significant new information and fresh insights from the authors' analyses." —Shaul Stampfer, Hebrew University

"This important contribution to our understanding of the evolution of ritual murder charges in Eastern Europe brings together a number of innovative studies on the topic, several of which could become standard reading on the subject." —Glenn Dynner, Sarah Lawrence College

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Ritual Murder Accusations in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Beyond / Eugene M. Avrutin, Jonathan Dekel-Chen, and Robert Weinberg
1. Imagined Crimes, Real Victims: Hermeneutical Witches and Jews in Early Modern Poland / Michael Ostling
2. The Jewish Blood Libel Legend—A Folkloristic Perspective / Haya Bar-Itzhak
3. Ritual Murder in a Russian Border Town / Eugene M. Avrutin
4. The Saratov Affair as a Critical Juncture in Ritual Murder History / Andrew C. Reed
5. The Blood Libel in Nineteenth-Century Lithuania: A Comparison of Two Cases /
Darius Staliūnas
Yahrzeits, Condolences, and Other Close Encounters: Neighborly Relations and Ritual Murder Trials in Germany and Austria-Hungary / Hillel J. Kieval
7. Human Sacrifice in the Name of a Nation: The Religion of Common Blood / Marina Mogilner
8. The Predatory Jew and Russian Vitalism: Dostoevsky, Rozanov, and Babel / Harriet Murav
9. Connecting the Dots: Jewish Mysticism, Ritual Murder, and the Trial of Mendel Beilis / Robert Weinberg
10. A Half-Full Cup? Transnational Responses to the Beilis Affair / Jonathan Dekel-Chen
11. Simulating Justice: The Blood Libel Case in Moscow, April 1922 / Gennady Estraikh
12. The Blood Libel and Its Wartime Permutations: Cannibalism in Soviet Lviv / Elissa Bemporad
13. Was the Doctors' Plot a Blood Libel? / Jeffrey Veidlinger
14. The Sandomierz Paintings of Ritual Murder as
Lieux de mémoire / Magda Teter
List of Contributors
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