Claire Le Foll is an Associate Professor of East European Jewish History and Culture. She specialises in the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. She is iterested in the inter-ethnic relations in the Western borderlands of the tsarist and Soviet empires, and more specifically in Belarus. In her first book she explored the development of the Vitebsk Art School in the context of the Russian avant-garde of the quest for a Jewish art. In her second book, she looked at the he relation of Jews of the Belorussian provinces to the administrative, political and cultural idea of Belorussia. She has published many articles on the political and cultural interactions of Jews and Belarusians in literature, art, cinema and scholarship in pre-revolutionary and Soviet Belarus.
- History and culture of Jews in Belarus from 1772 to 1939, including Belarusian-Jewish relations
- Jewish art in Eastern Europe, more specifically in Belarus and Ukraine
- Nationalities policy in the Russian/Soviet western borderlands
- Cultural transfers and knowledge exchanges between different national groups in Belarus and more broadly the multiethnic western margins of Russia/Soviet Union.
Claire Le Foll is currently working on a biography of Zmitrok Biadulia, a Belarusian writer of Jewish origin who is a key cultural and political figure in Belarusian history. His multifaceted life and personality will allow her to analyse various aspects of the Jewish-Belarusian interactions between 1905 and 1941 : the emergence of a Belarusian national idea (through Biadulia’s role as editor of the first Belarusian newspaper Nasha Niva), the formation of a Belarusian literature (through analysis of Biadulia’s short stories, poems, novels and plays), the rapprochement between Belarusian and Jews (that Biadulia consistently promoted), and the study of popular Belarusian culture (through his interest in folk theatre and ethnography). Biadulia’s rich political and cultural activities, as well as his complex relation to his own Jewishness, offer us an insight into the process of creation of a Belarusian national culture in the context of the multi-ethnic Soviet republic of Belarus where Jews were recognized as the second most important nation, at a period of rapid and wide political changes.
External roles and responsibilities
Claire Le Foll received her BA and MA degrees in History from Paris-Sorbonne (Paris I) and her PhD at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales (Paris). She was a post-doctoral research at the university of Portsmouth (2006-2007, funded by a Hanadiv Foundation post-doctoral fellowship) 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). She has joined the history department and Parkes Institute at University of Southampton in October 2009.
Over the years, I have gained proficiency in Russian, Yiddish and Belorussian, and basic knowledge of Polish, Hebrew and German. I have worked extensively with archives in Eastern Europe, Israel and the US.