Colonies Restored: Atlas of Jewish Agricultural Settlement in the Modern Era

Jonathan Dekel-Chen, Hebrew University

The goal of this project is the publication of the first annotated atlas, in any language, of organized Jewish agricultural settlement in the modern world.  This atlas will include settlement projects as diverse as the tsarist-era colonies in “New” Russia during the first decades of the nineteenth century, through the ill-fated utopian Am Olam communes in North America of the 1880s, to the huge farming projects in Argentina and the interwar Soviet Russia, ending with the Zionist agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel before and after 1948. “Colonies Restored” will create both a rich atlas and internet database through the compilation of geographical and historical data from these settlement projects. The atlas will include original and reconstructed maps from these projects, as well as vintage art, media objects and photographs from the colonies.

The grant provided by the Da’at ha-makom I-Core research group is dedicated to the preparation of a fully designed sample chapter for this annotated atlas. I will use this sample chapter – encompassing the history of the settlement project along the Black Sea littoral in the interwar Soviet Union – to “market” the publication project to major publishing houses. If successful, this annotated atlas will be a significant step toward reintroducing agrarianism into the narrative of modern Jewish history.  Moreover, this research will help to revise what has become in the past half-century an Israel-centric approach towards agricultural settlement in the collective memory.