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Joanna Michlic

Subject History
Sociology » Sociology of Religion, Sociology of War, Peace, and Conflict

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The term pogrom came into widespread use in Russia in the late nineteenth century. Originally it defined an organized massacre for the destruction or annihilation of any group of people. Since 1905–6, in the English-speaking world, it evolved into a term chiefly used to describe any riots directed against Jews in the modern era. Both in Russia and the West the term pogrom came to connote “official planning and collusion,” and was contrasted with the term riot defined as spontaneous strife or disorder on the part of the populace. It has recently been argued that neither the term riot nor pogrom effectively captures the dynamics of the most violent occurrences involving large crowds, which tend to share the features of both definitions: elements of organization and planning on the one hand, and spontaneity on the other hand (Brass 1996). The most extensively researched anti-Jewish riots are the pogroms of 1881–2, which swept the southwestern provinces of the Russian Empire. These pogroms are widely regarded as the major turning point in modern Jewish history. Among Jews, the pogroms prompted disillusionment with a solution to the Jewish Question based on civic emancipation and social integration. They resulted in new forms of Jewish politics of a nationalist type, such as Zionism, and the growth of socialist organizations aimed at Jewish proletarians. The Russian state, in turn, moved ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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