Derek Penslar

Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History Emeritus
Affiliated Faculty, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies


617 998 54 08



Derek Penslar is the William Lee Frost Professor of Modern Jewish History at Harvard and the Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History Emeritus at the University of Toronto. He approaches modern Jewish history from a transnational and global perspective. His work encompasses the history of the Jews in modern West and Central Europe, North America, and Palestine/Israel. He is particularly interested in the relationship between modern Israel and diaspora Jewish societies, global nationalist movements, European colonialism, and post-colonial states.

Penslar has also taught at Indiana University, Bloomington and Oxford University, where he served as the inaugural Stanley Lewis Professor of Modern Israel Studies from 2012 until 2016. He co-edits (with Anita Shapira) The Journal of Israeli History.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada President of the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Penslar’s books include Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918 (1991); In Search of Jewish Community: Jewish Identities in Germany and Austria, 1918-1933 (1998, co-edited with Michael Brenner), Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001); Orientalism and the Jews (co-edited with Ivan Kalmar, 2004), Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective (2006); The Origins of the State of Israel 1882-1948: A Documentary History (with Eran Kaplan, 2011). Jews and the Military: A History (2013), and  Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader (2020).  He is currently writing a book titled Zionism: An Emotional State.

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