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Dr Claire Le Foll PhD (Paris), PhD

Director of the Parkes Institute, Associate Professor of East European Jewish History and Culture,JHC MA Convenor

Dr Claire Le Foll's photo

Dr Claire Le Foll is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Southampton.

I specialise in the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. I joined the Parkes Institute and History department in September 2009.

After receiving my BA (licence) and MA (maîtrise) degrees from Paris-Sorbonne (Paris I), I wrote my doctoral dissertation at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) under the supervision of both Jewish and Russian history specialists. I defended my PhD in 2006 on ‘The History and Representation of Jews in Belorussia, 1772-1917' under the supervision of Prof. Sylvie-Anne Goldberg.

My post-doctoral positions in Portsmouth university (2006-2007) funded by a post-doctoral fellowship from the Hanadiv Foundation, and at the Franco-Russian Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences in Moscow (2007-2008) funded by a grant from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (bourse Lavoisier), allowed me to work on Belorussian-Jewish relations in Soviet Belarus during the interwar period. In 2008-9, I contributed to the organisation and academic preparation of the conference and festival ‘Kinojudaica: The Image of the Jews in the Russian and Soviet cinema' (Toulouse, 2008). I also participated in the Russian-to-French translation of the "Book of the pogroms", a collection of documents on the Russian Civil War pogroms (published in Paris in 2010).

Research interests

My specific research interests are connected with the history of Jews in Belarus.

My first book about the Vitebsk Art School explores the emergence of a national Jewish art in the context of Late Imperial Russia and of the Russian avant-garde; I am now interested in comparing the activity of Jewish artists in Vitebsk, Minsk and Kiev.

My second book La Biélorussie dans l’histoire et l’imaginaire des Juifs de l’Empire russe, 1772-1905 (Honoré Champion, 2017) (Belarus in the history and imaginary of Russian Jews) analyses the specific Jewish experience in Belorussia with regard to political, socio-economic, cultural and religious matters. This work offers an in-depth analysis of the relationships between Jews and Belorussians as well as their mutual representations in literature and art.

My current research project deals with the national experiments in Lithuania, Belorussia and Ukraine from 1905 to 1941, and in particular how national-cultural autonomy was implemented in these emerging republics. I am conducting research on the cultural interactions in literature, art, theatre, cinema and on the circulation of knowledge among various ethnic groups (Jews, Belorussians, Poles, Ukrainians, etc) and geographic areas (Poland, Russia and the previous margins of the Russian empire - Ukraine, Belarus). The main goal of the project is to write a cultural history of the states which were created after 1918 and to understand to what extent these exchanges influenced the formation of a national culture and identity in Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania. This project will also compare different experiences of ‘natural cultural autonomy' in Soviet and non-Soviet states.

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Book Chapters


Journal Special Issue


Modules I am teaching this year:

HIST 3072/3073: Society and Culture in the Late Russian Empire, 1881-1917. Part 1 and 2.

HIST 2031: Stalin and Stalinism

HIST 1058: Russia in Revolution 1905-1917

HIST 6093: Jewish Society and Culture in Eastern Europe


Areas where I can offer postgraduate supervision:

I can offer supervision on topics connected with the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe or with the history of national minorities in Russia and the Soviet Union.

Dr Claire Le Foll
Building 65, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number: 65/3003

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