Beauty Queens, Irredentism and the Jewish Question in Interwar Hungary

Beauty Queens, Irredentism and the Jewish Question in Interwar Hungary

Seminar by Michael L. Miller
Start: 03.10.2012 – 17:00
End: 03.10.2012 – 18:30

Venue: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres, Nussdorfer Strasse 64, 4th floor, 1090 Wien

In 1929, Elizabeth Simon (Simon Boske) won the Miss Hungary beauty pageant and then went on to become Miss Europa. After Hungary’s defeat in World War I and its huge territorial losses in 1920, the victory of Miss Hungary over all of the other European contestants was welcomed by Hungarian nationalists as a sign of Hungary’s indomitable spirit …
… until they realized that Elizabeth Simon was a Jew. This talk will examine the debates in interwar Europe about the Jewish Question, national identity and “Jewish” beauty. It will also compare the Miss Hungary pageant to explicitly “Jewish” beauty pageants in the late 1920s, such as the Miss Judea pageant in Warsaw and the Queen Esther pageant in Tel Aviv, shedding light on the divergent attitudes towards assimilation and acculturation in the Hungarian, Polish and Zionist contexts.

Michael L. Miller is an Associate Professor in the Nationalism Studies program at Central European University in Budapest, where he helped to establish the Jewish Studies Program. He received his Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, where he specialized in Jewish and Central European History. His research focuses on the impact of nationality conflicts on the religious, cultural, and political development of Central European Jewry in the nineteenth century. He has recently published articles in Slavic Review, Austrian History Yearbook, and Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook. Miller’s book, Rabbis and Revolution: The Jews of Moravia in the Age of Emancipation, was published by Stanford University Press in 2011.

This seminar is part of a joint seminar series of the Institute for Economic and Social History in Prague and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres in Vienna. The new programme for the winter semester 2012 will be published soon.

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