2018. Issue 3 (42)

Gerasimova V. A. Is Siberia Tolerant? To the Question of the Attitude to jews in Western Siberia in the Pre-revolutionary Period (.pdf)


The article examines the experience of interfaith interaction between Jews and the surrounding non-Jewish population in Western Siberia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The author analyzes various types of interaction between Jews and Siberians (peasants, Orthodox clergy, philistines, etc.), concentrating on conflict situations. One of the important and obvious factors of a comparatively low level of interfaith conflicts with the participation of Jews was the scarcity of the Jewish population in the Siberian region, as well as a significant degree of their acculturation, such as proficiency in Russian, behavioral attitudes, and appearance. However, as the experience of interaction between Jews and the surrounding population in other regions of the Russian Empire shows, these factors were not decisive. Specificity of interethnic interaction in Siberia was largely determined by a special attitude of Siberians towards religion as to an ethical code (the case of the denunciation of the petty bourgeois Drozdov, Tomsk, 1874), while the area of interconfessional conflicts was probably not a priority for the Siberian church hierarchs (the case on the insult of the Orthodox priest by the Jewish "merchant sons" Preysman and Haimovich). The author states that social and economic conflicts involving Jews in Siberia did not lead to the activation of religious sentiments typical for the European regions. It means that neither the blood libel, nor other religious accusations, nor the folklore narratives about Jews were popular in Siberia. A significant part of Siberian Jews appeared there as the result of the "forced integration" (this term is introduced by the author for the first time for the research use) into the imperial society and was represented by exiles, agricultural settlers, and soldiers. Siberian Jews fit into the social matrix, assimilating special value and behavioral attitudes, corporate ethics, etc. The analysis of the sources showed that, given the weak relevance of interconfessional conflicts, the main stereotypes of the perception of Jews as an ethnic and confessional minority were built on the socio-economic characteristics of the activities of some representatives of the Jewish diaspora in Siberia. For a Siberian, the negative image of a Jew was not related to his religious and cultural differences from non-Jews, but to specific illegal activities: smuggling, counterfeiting, cheating, pimping, operations with stolen gold, etc. These stereotypes were actualized in conflict situations between Siberians and Jews.


Key words: Jews, interfaith interactions, Russian empire, Judaism, tolerance, Western Siberia.


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