Jewish Feelings in the City: Emotional Topographies and Power Relations in Modern Stockholm

This book project explores the emotional topography of the Jewish population in Stockholm from the decade leading up to their emancipation in 1870 until the beginning of the Second World War. Working with a wide range of material – parish books, taxation records, membership lists, community protocols, newspaper articles, photographs, letters, receipts and interviews – the book examines the connection between emotions, community politics and urban space, and how they together affected the development of Jewish physical places. Residing on islands, with water bodies dividing most urban districts from each other, Stockholm shaped the imaginative idea, and today’s historical memory, of static, dichotomized Jewish identities. Research, heritage and education have divided Stockholm’s Jews into two groups, defined by opposing socio-economic, ethnic and religious differences, and inscribed the stereotypes into the urban topography, creating 'northern Jews' and 'southern Jews.' But the Jewish community, never bigger than 6,000 individuals before 1939, had conflicting ideas on religious traditions, and geographical or identity borders did not stop fluid movements across the water. As Jews settled in the city, they internalized and adopted the emotional landscape attached to the city’s districts, prioritizing spatial integration above a larger group identity. As a minority in an overwhelmingly Protestant society, the Jewish population also constructed synagogues, cemeteries, religious afternoon schools, ritual baths, and summer houses to communicate anxiety about social exclusion, nostalgia for the past, familiar continuity of Jewish traditions, and safety of the home. These spaces also functioned as arenas for the emotional practices of Jewish/non-Jewish intersections, socio-economic hierarchies, and the formation of emotional communities during internal power struggles on spatial religious diversity, ultimately defining both Jewish topography and the larger city. Merging Jewish studies, urban history, emotion history and Digital Humanities, the book invites the reader to understand the emotional strategies that defined the evolution of Jewish experience in the city of Stockholm from 1860 to 1939. 

The project is a redevelopment of the doctoral thesis 'Between marginality and multiplicity: mapping Jewish public home-making in modern Stockholm,' defended at University of Southampton (U.K.) in 2019. It will run until the summer of 2023, and will be published within the series The City as Place, hosted at the publication house Peter Lang Publishing. The publication is generously supported by stipends from the Per Lindecrantz Fund at University of Gothenburg, Samfundet S:t Erik, and Åke Wibergs stiftelse