Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History

This Journal

Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History / Questioni di storia ebraica contemporanea is an open acces and peer reviewed journal published by the Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (CDEC), an institute devoted to historicalresearch that was established in Milan in 1955. CDEC focuses its attention on the history of Italian Jews in the 20th century, the Fascist and Nazi persecutions, anti-Semitism. On these issues it leads, promotes and publishes scholarly research as well as collections of documentary sources (

The history of Italian Jewry features a number of specific traits: two thousand years of uninterrupted presence of the Jews in Rome, the historical layering of “Italian”, Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, a continuous confrontation with Christianity first and the Catholic Church later, a rich production of religious art and craft which is today “dispersed” in the most important Jewish museums of the world; strong ties with Jewish groups in other Mediterranean areas and an impressive participation in public life since the second half of the 19th century and through the 20th . Moving from these and other considerations – and keeping in mind the specific nature of the CDEC as an institute of historical research -  in 2008 the Institute’s Scientific Board  decided to pave the way to the realization of Quest.

At the turn of the new century, some members of the CDEC’s Scientific Committee, and a number of young resea rchers cooperating with the institute, started a discussion that eventually led to the decision to establish a new academic journal – a journal devoted to the history and historiography of the Jews in modern times. Italy seemed to be lacking a public space devoted to such issues, a place where scholars could publish and discuss the results of research published either in Italy or abroad and related to Italian Jewish history or Jewish history in general. The journal would therefore provide the missing link between those interpretative paradigms and perspectives emerging out of Italian scholarship and those produced by international historiography. Quest thus wants to be an instrument of research, communication and debate, at an international level. For this reason it is entirely published in English.

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Quest is thus a journal devoted to historical research and historiographical debate on Jewish life and history in the period comprised between the mid-18th and the beginning of the 21st century. It wants to be inclusive of all the Jewish realities as they developed in the  modern period from the ancient Mediterranean communities which emerged from the Spanish and Portuguese Diasporas to the ‘new’ Eastern and Central European Jewish experiences, up to American Jewish history and Israeli history. From a thematic perspective,Quest includes the Jewish enlightenment, the emancipation, the old “nation of the Jews” and the new “State of the Jews”, the traditional religious and the new secular identities, Jews as mi grants, inter-ethnic Jewish life and solidarity as well as relations between the Jewish group and national societies. Quest also includes research on Zionism and anti-Zionism, Shoah and its memory, Jewish modernity and modern anti-Semitism. To sum up, Quest is open to the political, cultural, religious and institution al history of Jewish communities andsocieties, and to Jewish means of social, political and cultural expression, to be investigated in their specificities and in their relations with their non-Jewish counterparts.

Launching a journal on the history of the Jews in the modern period does not mean thatQuest subscribes to a Jewish reading of modernity, nor that it considers Jewish history to represent a separate historiographical paradigm. On the contrary,  Quest  intends to investigate and contribute to the scholarly debate on the ways in which Jews have contributed to modernity and, vice-versa, the ways Jewish societies and individuals were shaped by modernity.

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