Carnegie Mellon University

Michal Friedman

Michal Friedman

Visiting Assistant Professor


Michal Friedman specializes in Jewish Diasporic history, especially that of Sephardic and Spanish speaking Jewish communities, and in Spanish history and culture.

Her teaching and research specifically focus on the historical coexistence (or “convivencia”) of religious and ethnic minorities in Spain, the modern and contemporary recovery of this historical legacy and its relevance to debates over national and transnational identities, immigration and tolerance/intolerance in contemporary Europe, and the Americas. Her work also explores discourses of otherness, Jewishness and cultural hybridity in the formation of Hispanic identities and the particular discourse of “Hispanidad” (or Hispanism).

She has taught courses on Jewish, European, Spanish and Latin American history and culture, as well as Hebrew language, at Columbia University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Pittsburgh's Academy of Jewish Learning.

Her book manuscript, based on her Columbia University Dissertation Recovering Jewish Spain: Politics, Historiography and Institutionalization of the Jewish Past in Spain (1845-1935), is a study of initiatives to recover the Jewish past and of the emergence of Sephardic Studies in Spain from 1845 to 1940. It explores the ways the Jewish past became central to efforts to construct and claim a Spanish patria, through its appropriation and integration into the nation's official national historical narrative, or historia patria. The construction of this history was highly contentious, as historians and politicians brought Spain's Jewish past to bear in debates over political reform, in discussions of religious and national identity, and in elaborating diverse political and cultural movements. Moreover, it demonstrates how the recovery of the Jewish past connected--via a Spanish variant of the so-called "Jewish question"--to nationalist political and cultural movements such as Neo-Catholicism, Orientalism, Regenerationism, Hispanism, and Fascism. In all of these contexts, attempts to reclaim Spain's Jewish past--however impassioned and however committed--remained fractured and ambivalent, making such efforts to "recover" Spain's Jews as partial as they were compromised.

Michal Friedman spent the fall term of 2016 at the University of Oxford in the UK as a postdoctoral fellow in the Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies on "Jews, Liberalism, Antisemitism: The Dialectics of Inclusion." In 2015 she was fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where she spent the spring semester. She was also awarded a Fulbright-I.I.E. grant for dissertation research in Spain, as well as dissertation research grants from the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture & United States’ Universities, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Maurice Amado Foundation.

For more information see my page.


Ph.D.: Columbia University, 2012


Journal Articles

  • “Reconstructing ‘Jewish Spain’: The Politics and Institutionalization of Jewish History in Spain, 1845-1940,” Hamsa. Journal of Judaic and Islamic Studies, Inaugural issue 1 (2014): 55-67.
  • “Jewish History as “Historia Patria”: José Amador de los Ríos and the History of the Jews of Spain, Journal of Jewish Social Studies Volume 18, Number 1 (Fall 2011): 88-126.
  • “Die Wiederentdeckung des ‘Jüdischen Spanien’: Die Politik der Rekonstruktion der jüdischen Vergangenheit und die Entstehung Sefardischer Studien in Spanien (1845- 1949),” in Michael Brenner ed. Das neue Sefarad - Das moderne Spanien und sein jüdisches Erbe, Münchner Beiträge zur Jüdischen Geschichte und Kultur, Special issue Vol. 5, Issue 2 (2011): 41-58.
  • “Reconquering ‘Sepharad’: Hispanism and proto-Fascism in Giménez Caballero's Sephardist Crusade,” in Daniela Flesler, Tabea Linhard and Adrián Peréz Melgosa eds. Revisiting Jewish Spain: Translations, Appropriations and Commemorations in the Modern Era, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies Special issue, Vol. 12.1 (2011): 35-60.

Book Chapters

Courses Taught

  • Topics in the Jewish Diaspora: Jewish-Latin America
  • Iberian Encounters: Christians, Muslims and Jews in Spain
  • Europe and the World since 1800
  • Jews and Muslims in History: From the Time of Muhammad to the Present
  • 20th/21st Century Europe
  • Anti-Judaism & Antisemitism from the Middle Ages through the Holocaust

Department Member Since: 2010