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Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies pres.

CREES Noon Lecture. Lethal Provocations: Anti-Jewish Violence in French Algeria and Ukraine

Joshua Cole, professor of history, U-M; Jeffrey Veidlinger, Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies, U-M

Lethal Provocation book cover Lethal Provocation book cover
Lethal Provocation book cover
Jeffrey Veidlinger and Joshua Cole will discuss Prof. Cole's new book, Lethal Provocation: The Constantine Murders and the Politics of French Algeria, with Prof. Veidlinger offering his expertise on Ukrainian pogroms for a comparative perspective.

Part murder mystery, part social history of political violence, Lethal Provocation is a forensic examination of the deadliest peacetime episode of anti-Jewish violence in modern French history. It reconstructs the 1934 riots in Constantine, Algeria, in which tensions between Muslims and Jews were aggravated by right-wing extremists, resulting in the deaths of twenty-eight people.

Animating the unrest was Mohamed El Maadi, a soldier in the French army. Later a member of a notorious French nationalist group that threatened insurrection in the late 1930s, El Maadi became an enthusiastic supporter of France's Vichy regime in World War II, and finished his career in the German SS. The book cracks the "cold case" of El Maadi's participation in the events, revealing both his presence at the scene and his motives in provoking violence at a moment when the French government was debating the rights of Muslims in Algeria. Local police and authorities came to know about the role of provocation in the unrest and killings and purposely hid the truth during the investigation that followed. Lethal Provocation brings into high relief the cruelty of social relations in the decades before the war for Algerian independence.

Joshua Cole is professor of history at the University of Michigan, where he specializes in the social and cultural history of France in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is the author of Lethal Provocation: The Constantine Murders and the Politics of French Algeria (2019) and The Power of Large Numbers: Population, Politics, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century France (2000), as well as articles on colonial violence and the politics of memory in France, Algeria, and Germany. He is also the author, with Carol Symes, of Western Civilizations (20th ed., 2019).

Jeffrey Veidlinger is Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies and director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of the award-winning books The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet Stage (2000), Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire (2009), and In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (2013). Prof. Veidlinger is a vice president of the Association for Jewish Studies, associate chair of the Academic Advisory Council of the Center for Jewish History, and a member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is currently working on a book about the pogroms of the Russian Civil War.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to crees@umich.edu at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
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