John Dizgun

Ph.D. Candidate
Rutgers University
Department of History
16 Seminary Place, Van Dyck Hall
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1108

Fax: 303-600-0341

Dissertation Abstract

Title: "Land without Memories: Jewish Tragedy and the Boundaries of Pluralism and Citizenship in Argentina"

My dissertation explores how Argentines, and specifically Jewish Argentines, have responded to and commemorated tragedy in Argentina throughout the twentieth century.  Focusing on a series of defining crises- 1) the 1919 Tragic Week, 2) the Nazi presence in the 1940s 3) the 1962 anti-Semitic Sirota Affair, 4) the military dictatorship's "Dirty War" from 1976-1983, and 5) the 1992 and 1994 bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli Embassy and the AMIA, Argentina's largest Jewish community institution- it historicizes conflicts among competing political, ideological, and religious groups over how to define, represent, and memorialize the Argentine past.  Whether calls to avoid public remembrance of tragedy or energetic demands to revisit and publicize that very past, this paper examines how rival Jewish commemorative camps, under both authoritarian and democratic rule, deployed strategies of memory to make their case for how Jews should best assimilate into Argentine society.

These competing commemorative practices open a window into the protean nature of Argentine pluralism and citizenship.  Jews in Argentina, with rare exceptions, had always enjoyed the freedom to attend synagogue, operate Jewish schools, keep kosher, enter politics, and participate in all economic walks of life.  But the nation's Catholic political tradition- expressed
most directly in the Constitution which, until 1995, decreed that the President must be Catholic- created both real and imagined challenges for Argentine Jews and other non-Catholic minorities to gain social and cultural acceptance.  In their ongoing historical struggle to become "unmistakably Argentine," in the words of Argentine novelist Jorge Luis Borges, this dissertation illustrates how such challenges shaped the competing ways in which Argentine Jews sought torevisit and transmit the history of tragedy in this land of immigrants.

Candidate for Ph.D. in 2002
Rutgers University
Department of History: Latin America; Argentina; Jewish; Collective Memory

Organization of American States (OAS) PRA Graduate Research Fellow, 2001
Rutgers University Graduate Fellowship, 1996-2000
Baruch S. Seidman Scholarship in Jewish Studies, Rutgers University, May 1999
International Council of Canadian Studies (ICCS) Foreign Government Award, 1997
ICETEX Colombian Government Grant for research in Jewish immigration, 1997

Faculty Teaching Evaluation Committee, Student Representative
Graduate Education Committee, Student Representative

BA in History, May 1994
Tufts University,  Magna Cum Laude; Dean’s List (all years)

Study abroad
School for International Training, Ecuador, 1992-1993

Professional experience
2001: Centro de Documentacion Marc Turkow (AMIA) Buenos Aires, Argentina
As an OAS Fellow, research Argentine “Dirty War” (1976-1983) and recent bombings in Buenos Aires of Israeli Embassy (1992) and AMIA (1994).  Explore distinct commemorative traditions among Jews and non-Jews stemming from those tragedies and evaluate what those memory narratives suggest about the nature of pluralism and democracy in 20th-century Argentina.

Fall 2000 & 1998: Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
Taught History of Western Civilization, a required undergraduate course.

Summer 2000 & Spring 1999: Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Taught History of Colonial Latin America, a mid-level undergraduate survey course.
Developed and taught The Jewish Presence in Latin America, an upper-level history seminar and the first course of its kind at Rutgers.

July/97-Jan/98: La Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia
As an ICCS Fellow, investigated 20th-century Colombian Jewish civil and religious identity, paying close attention to Sephardic and Ashkenazi ethnic and gender differences.  Created an oral history collection.

Publications and presentations

Spring 2001: “Rights of Passage: Jewish Intermarriage and Conversion in Colombia,”   ??SHOFAR Volume 19, No.3.
December 2000: “Land without Memories: Jewish Tragedy and the Boundaries of Pluralism and Citizenship in Argentina,” Association of Jewish Studies, Boston, MA.
March 1999: “Rights of Passage: Jewish Intermarriage and Conversion in Colombia,” Latin American Jewish Studies Association, Princeton, NJ.
May 1999: Student Award Address, Dedication, Joan and Allan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
November 1997: “Colombia y los Judíos: una historia contemporánea,” La Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia.

French &  Spanish non-native fluency
Hebrew & Yiddish basic comprehension