The Panama Affair: Financial Scandal, Political Corruption and the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism in 19th century France
November 28, 2023, 6:15 pm in Posner Hall, Rachel Mellon Walton Room
Lisa Leff, Professor of History, American University and Director, Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The French anti-Semitic movement of the 1890s- typically associated with the Dreyfus affair- was in fact launched by a different scandal. In the 1892-93 Panama scandal, the anti-Semitic movement first coalesced over a broadly shared outrage about a corrupt foreign investment scheme in which hundreds of thousands of ordinary investors lost their fortunes. Seeing the scandal as revealing Jews’ nefarious control of France’s democratic institutions, anti-Semitic leaders channeled the populist impulse in France into a politically potent kind of anti-Jewish xenophobia. This presentation looks anew at the affair as a formative moment in the history of anti-Semitism, and provides a new perspective on anti-Semitic movements' critique of liberal democracy, capitalism, and globalization.
Lisa Leff, Professor of History, American University and Director, Mandel Center for Advanced Holocause Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Moderated by Michal Rose Friedman, Jack Buncher Professor of Jewish Studies, Department of History, Carnegie Mellon University