Ph.D.: Columbia University, 2012
Department Member Since: 2010
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, Spanish and Latin American history and culture, as well as Hebrew language, at Columbia University, the University of Oaklahoma, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Pittsburgh's Academy of Jewish Learning.
Her doctoral dissertation (Columbia University 2012) 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 1935. 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 was 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.
Michal, a native of Israel, who spent extensive periods living, studying and conducting research in Spain and Yucatan, Mexico, is also the Co-Founder, Director and Principal Advisor to “Jóvenes sin Nombres” a Pittsburgh based community and arts youth organization and collective focused on arts and cultural projects that address issues around immigration, citizenship and the border. It is affiliated with the Center for the Arts in Society at Carnegie Mellon University. Michal directed Pittsburgh's first Latino mural, created by JSN in collaboration with the Carnegie Museum of Art, CAS and ArtUp. The group also collaborated with the Hiawatha Project on the production of "Camino", a theatrical piece dealing with the US for profit immigrant detention centers, and inspired by the lives of two members of JSN. Other JSN projects included the creation of short documentary film “Dream Acts: Sueños en vilo” in collaboration with the 2011 Carnegie Mellon International “Faces of Migration” Film Festival and Colombian visual artist Felipe Castelblanco. The group most recently was awarded an W Mellon grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation to develop a series of printmaking based workshops and art installations aimed to increase visibility for young immigrants in Pittsburgh and especially for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) and the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors).
|Topics in the Jewish Diaspora: Jewish-Latin America|
|Iberian Encounters: Christians, Muslims and Jews in Spain|
Department of History
Wean Hall 4620