Adi Gordon

Five College Assistant Professor of History

Contact & Office Hours

Dewey Hall 305



My teaching interests include modern intellectual and modern Jewish history. I have enjoyed teaching classes on Central European intellectuals, on modern Jewish politics, on Israeli film (and even on Israeli folksongs). In my teaching, I tend to seek the connection between ideas and their historical setting. Studying the past enriches us with people, ideas and human dilemmas—both familiar and unfamiliar. But studying the past more rigorously also involves an awareness of our own perspective, and will occasionally require that we “unlearn” some 21st century assumptions we may take for granted. I've taught courses on European intellectual history (20th century) and Israeli history.

Academic and Research Interests

My fields of research are modern Jewish and European intellectual histories with emphases on Central Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, on the one hand, and on Zionism and the Yishuv (the Jewish society in Pre-48 Palestine) on the other. My research focuses on the intersection of Central European and Jewish history and ideas with other historical arenas and global transformations.

My first book, In Palestine: In a Foreign Land (2004), explores the non-Zionist milieu of left-wing exiles from the Third Reich in Palestine, and their ensuing collision with the Zionist Yishuv society there. This group exposes the dynamics of Zionist nation building, extends the history of Central European Jewry beyond its forced migration, and challenges conventional boundaries of what constituted the German Exile.

My second book, Brith Shalom and Bi-National Zionism (2008), is an edited volume that examines the emergence of the bi-national idea among Central European intellectuals who promoted the concept in the early 20th century. Influenced by debates in their European homelands about national minority rights and federated national autonomies, these individuals rejected the idea of a Jewish nation-state, and instead advocated the creation of a bi-national Jewish-Arab state in Palestine. Although this vision was always marginalized within the larger Zionist movement, it reveals the impact of Central European political culture beyond the continent’s borders.

I am currently working on a biography of Hans Kohn, the great authority on nationalism in the mid-20th century, whose academic career began as an early scholar of the interplay of nationalism and imperialism in the East. He would achieve fame in the 1940s with his very influential distinction between civic and ethnic nationalisms. His biography—marked by an endless struggle with nationalism and with the distinction between East and West—is a story of the migration of ideas from Central Europe, through Palestine, to the United States, and then back to Europe. It is a turbulent biography that crosses continents and ideologies, but always takes place where scholarship meets politics.

Selected Publications


Adi Gordon (ed.), Brith Shalom and Bi-National Zionism: “The Arab Question” as a Jewish Question, Carmel, Jerusalem, 2008 [Hebrew].

 Adi Gordon, "In Palestine. In a Foreign Land": The Orient. A German-Language Weekly between German Exile and Aliyah, Hebrew University Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 2004 [Hebrew]

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

Adi Gordon, “Nothing but a Disillusioned Love: Hans Kohn’s Break from the Zionist Movement,” Ezra Mendelsohn, Stefani Hoffman, and Richard I. Cohen (eds.). Against the Grain: Jewish Intellectuals in Hard Times, Berghahn Books: New York, 2013, pp. 117-142.

Adi Gordon, “Widersprüchliche Zugehörigkeiten: Arnold Zweig in Ostdeutschland,” Raphael Gross and Monika Boll (eds.), „Ich staune, dass Sie in dieser Luft atmen können“: Jüdische Intellektuelle in Deutschland nach 1945, 2013, S. Fischer Verlag: Frankfurt am Main, pp. 171-204.  

Adi Gordon and Udi Greenberg, “The City of Man, the European Émigrés, and the Genesis of Postwar Conservative Thought,” Religions 2012, 3 3, no. 3, pp. 681-698.

Adi Gordon, “The Need for West: Hans Kohn and the North Atlantic Community,” Journal of Contemporary HistoryVolume 46, Issue 1 (January 2011), pp. 33-56.

Adi Gordon, “The Ideological Convert and the Mythology of Coherence: The Contradictory Hans Kohn and his Multiple Metamorphoses,” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book LV (2010), pp. 273-293.

Adi Gordon, “Against Vox Populi: Arnold Zweig‟s Struggle with Political Passions,” Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 38 (2010), pp. 133-147.

Adi Gordon, "Orient: Exile of the Last Europeans," Mediterraneans / Méditerranéennes 14, (Spring 2010), pp. 62-68.

Adi Gordon and Gil Ribak, "German Jewish Migration to the United States," Thomas Adam (ed.), Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History, Vol. 1, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2005, pp.13- 22.

Adi Gordon, “German Exiles in the ‘Orient.’ The German-language Weekly ‘Orient’ (Haifa 1942-3) Between German Exile and Zionist Aliya,” Benrhard Greiner (ed.), Placeless Topographies: Jewish Perspectives on the Literature of Exile (Conditio Judaica, vol. 43), Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, 2003, pp. 149-159.