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About Elizabeth Imber


[email protected]
(208) 459-5203
Strahorn Hall, 206

Personal Statement

I am 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. My 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, I am interested in how everyday practices, personal and affective ties, and spaces of private and convivial interaction shape political experience.

My book project explores the multifaceted nature of Jewish politics in the British Empire during the rise of anticolonial national and transnational political movements between 1917 and 1948. 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. My project 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. I argue 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. My 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.


  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2018
  • MA, Johns Hopkins University, 2013
  • MA, Brandeis University, 2010
  • BA, Brandeis University, 2009


  “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.