Ofer Ashkenazi

Jan 9, 2024

Anti-Heimat Cinema

The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape

University of Michigan Press 2020

Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape (U Michigan Press, 2020) studies an overlooked yet fundamental element of German popular culture in the twentieth century. In tracing Jewish filmmakers' contemplations of "Heimat"-- a provincial German landscape associated with belonging and authenticity -- it analyzes their distinctive contribution to the German identity discourse between 1918 and 1968. The book shows how these filmmakers devised the landscapes of the German "Homeland" as Jews, namely as acculturated "outsiders within." Through appropriation of generic Heimat imagery, the films discussed in the book integrate criticism of national chauvinism into German mainstream culture from the end of World War One to the early decades of the Cold War. Consequently, the Jewish filmmakers discussed in this book anticipated the anti-Heimatfilm of the ensuing decades and functioned as an uncredited inspiration for the critical New German Cinema.

Ofer Ashkenazi is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Richard Koebner-Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He published monographs and articles on various topics in modern German and German-Jewish history, including Weimar visual culture, the German antiwar movement, and the German memory of Nazism and the Holocaust. His current project considers photographs that were taken by Jews to document their daily life in Nazi Germany.

Amir Engel is currently a visiting professor at the faculty of theology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He is also the chair at the German department at the Hebrew University. Engel studied philosophy, literature, and culture studies at the Hebrew University and completed his PhD. in the German Studies department at Stanford University. He is the author of Grshom Scholem: an Intellectual biography that came out in Chicago in 2017. He also published works on, among others, Jacob Taubes, Hannah Arendt, and Hans Jonas. He is currently working on a book titled "The German Spirit from its Jewish Sources: The History of Jewish-German Occultism". The project proposes a new approach to German intellectual history by highlighting marginalized connections between German Occultism, its Christian sources notwithstanding, and Jewish sources, especially the Jewish mystical tradition.

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Amir Engel is currently a visiting professor at the faculty of theology at the Humboldt University in Berlin. He is also the chair at the German department at the Hebrew University.

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