The Velizh Affair: Jews and Christians in a 19th-century Russian Border Town.
Project Directors: Eugene Avrutin, Professor of History
Grant Program: Fellowships for University Teachers
Now largely forgotten, the Velizh affair (1823-35) was the longest ritual murder case in the modern world. While scholars usually attribute the charge to anti-Semitism, this study argues that tales of blood sacrifice proved remarkably contagious in the towns and villages of Eastern Europe because they resonated with contemporary popular beliefs. The proceedings of the trial thus reveal the fears and preoccupations of a population that has left no other written records.