Associate Professor Adam Mendelsohn

A MendelsohnAssociate Professor Adam Mendelsohn received his PhD from Brandeis University, and specialises in modern Jewish history. His research explores the experience of Jews in the United States and the British Empire in the nineteenth century, focusing on how Jews and Judaism adapted to liberal host societies, as well as on the economic, cultural, and religious connections that linked communities and individuals across national boundaries.

In addition to his work on the emergence of this Anglophone Jewish diaspora, Adam has written and taught about how Jews have grappled with issues of race in Apartheid South Africa and the United States during the Civil Rights era. Much of his teaching at UCT centres on the experience of minorities in the modern world, with a particular focus on South Africa. 

Current research projects:

Adam’s current projects include the completion of a monograph on the emergence of the English-speaking Jewish diaspora, the editing and annotation of the travel diaries of Benjamin Abraham Franklin, and work on a larger project on Jews within the British Empire during the Victorian period. 

 Select publications:

The Rag Race: How Jews sewed their way to Success in America and the British Empire, (New York University Press, 2015)

[Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies presented by the Jewish Book Council; winner of the quadrennial Southern Jewish Historical Society Book Prize]

Transnational Traditions: New Perspective on American Jewish History, with Ava Kahn (Wayne State University Press, 2014)

Jews and the Civil War: a Reader, with Jonathan D. Sarna (New York University Press, 2010)

(In preparation) Tongue Ties: The Birth of the English-Speaking Jewish World 

“Not the Retiring Kind: Jewish Colonials in England in the mid-19th century” in Maud Mandel, Ethan Katz, and Lisa Leff, eds., Colonialism and the Jews (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, forthcoming 2016)

“Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and Anglophone Jewry”, commissioned chapter for volume 8 of The Cambridge History of Judaism (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming)

“Fido Judaeus,” American Jewish History, forthcoming

“From Moses to Moses: Jews, Clothing, and Colonial Commerce” in Adam Teller and Rebecca Kobrin, eds., Purchasing Power: The Economics of Jewish History (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015): 125-146.

“The Rag Race: Jewish Secondhand Clothing Dealers in England and America,” in Brian P. Luskey and Wendy A. Woloson, eds., Capitalism by Gaslight: Illuminating the Economy of Nineteenth Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)

Guest Editor, special issue of American Jewish History (97:1, 2011) devoted to Jews and the Civil War

“Trading in Torah: Bootleg Bibles and Secondhand Scripture in the Age of European Imperialism” in Sarah Wobick and Gideon Reuveni, eds., The Economy in Jewish History: New Perspectives on the Interrelationship between Ethnicity and Economic Life (Berghahn, 2011): 187-201.

“Two Far South: Rabbinical Responses to Apartheid and Segregation in South Africa and the American South,” Southern Jewish History, 6, 2003: 63-132 [Winner of the Quadrennial Prize for Best Article in Southern Jewish History] 

Office Hours:

Please email for appointment times.

Contact details:

Office: Kaplan Centre, Upper Campus, UCT
Phone: 021 650 4730