The Politics of Jewish Legibility: Documentation Practices and Reform During the Reign of Nicholas I

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Abstract

This article discusses Jews' adoption of surnames in Russia in 1804 during the reign of Nicholas I. In an effort to minimize the self-sufficiency of the Jewish community and link Jews to the broader polity, a statute attempted to reorganize the place of Jews in Russian society. The adoption of hereditary surnames facilitated the mediation of civil disputes, the control of property, and the management of Jews in existing social categories. As the surnames helped officials ascribe legal status to Jews, they also played a decisive role in regulating their place in the social domain. The adoption of surnames signaled the beginning of a gradual transformation of Russian Jewry into a legal people.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-169
Number of pages34
JournalJewish Social Studies
Volume11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

Keywords

  • Russia
  • Russian Jews
  • Personal names
  • Jews
  • Statutes
  • Conflict management

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