Dr Alexandru Bar

Dr Alexandru Bar

Profile

I am currently a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute. In 2018 I have completed my Ph.D. titled The multilayered identity of Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco - the archives of an identity issue at the University of Leeds under the supervision of Dr. Helen Finch and Prof. Stuart Taberner, and having as External Adviser Prof. Michael White (University of York). My Doctoral studentship was fully-funded by the AHRC and was part of the Performing the Jewish Archives project.  Originally from Romania, I am a graduate of Tel Aviv University (Israel), with a Master’s of Arts in Political Science and Political Communication: Leadership, Communication, and Elections (MASA Scholarship 2012-2013). My M.A. Dissertation was titled An investigation into the cultural diversity in Europe: Jewish heritage in the European culture (case study: Romania 1866-1938) and looked at the involvement of Jewish intellectuals in the creation of the Romanian high-culture and in enabling political change in the interwar period. I hold a BA in Political Science from the University of Bucharest as well as a BA in Communication and Public Relations from The National University of Political Studies and Public Administration.


My Ph.D. research is situated at the frontier between history, literature, philosophy, political science and political theory, and focuses on the question of Jewish identity in Romania around the turn of the twentieth century, in the cases of Romanian-born Jews, poet Tristan Tzara, and painter Marcel Janco. The aim of this research is to understand how the social context resulting from the position of a struggle of them as Jews living in a country obsessed with its Christian origin has affected their identity and their engagement with social exclusion. This research focused on close analysis of manuscripts, and printed books, as well as letters, symbols of material culture, art objects, and images created by Tzara and Janco. It argues that it was neither Tzara’s and Janco’s Jewish heritage, nor their connection to Jewish culture, that defined their artistic personalities, but a web of interrelated social, political and personal components, all part of their multi-layered identity, of which their Jewishness was only one.

The discussion is built around the argument that the Deleuzoguattarian concept of ‘becoming’ offers a new platform to explore the linkage between Tzara’s and Janco’s lack of citizenship and the nation-state, by challenging the notions of Romanian and Jewish in favor of that of universal ‘citizenship’. My look at Tzara’s and Janco’s lives glimpses at the contemporary crisis of nation-state identity that we confront and all its complicated set of affairs such as the degrading conditions of political and economic inequality and the quite frequent antiglobalization acts. Similarly, Tzara’s and Janco’s rebellion emerged as a reaction to the aggressive protection of national interests combined with the antisemitic manifestations justified by a sort of patriotic duty of the majority. Tzara’s and Janco’s later geopolitical dislocation, fundamental to Dada’s own identity, would have possibly never occurred if the Romanian reality of that era would have been less focused on the alienation of the Jews. After all, looking closely at the life stories of the two, along with those of many other avant-gardists, allows us to realize that their resistance to such domination is not too far away from the one we experience today when faced with the imperial conquest of capitalism.


Within the Performing the Jewish Archives project, I worked in collaboration with the Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah and the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association Leeds to create a series of interactive workshops in response to the consistent demand from schools for talks from Holocaust survivors. The aim of this project was to create a series of interactive workshops which creates a more engaging and artistic experience for school students and their teachers and it is in the spirit of the ‘Performing the Jewish Archive’ project, which is motivated by a desire to recover archival materials, and to stimulate the creation of new works to re-animate existing archival repositories in order to establish a link between past, present, and future. This project focused on the volunteer speakers who were picking up from where the eyewitnesses have left off and looked at how they can engage young people in schools. We succeeded to convince schools that these volunteer talks can be as effective in encountering the stories of the Holocaust as meeting a living witness.


Publications:

  • A. Bar, The transformation of Tristan Tzara’s and Marcel Janco’s national identity, Peer-reviewed international Journal “Judaica Petropolitana,” University of Saint-Petersburg, forthcoming 2018;
  •  A. Bar, M. White, Tristan Tzara and Raoul Hausmann: communing with other identities in “Pluralities: Dada Techniques in Central and Eastern Europe” Brill-Rodopi series Avant-Garde Critical Studies [1], edited by Oliver Botar with the assistance of Irina Denischenko, Gábor Dobó, and Merse Pál Szeredi; forthcoming 2020; 
  • A. Bar, Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco: two “Romanians”, a “Symbol,” and Deleuzoguattarian becomingin “Pluralities: Dada Techniques in Central and Eastern Europe” Brill-Rodopi series Avant-Garde Critical Studies [1], edited by Oliver Botar with the assistance of Irina Denischenko, Gábor Dobó, and Merse Pál Szeredi; forthcoming 2020.

Conference participation as a speaker:

2018: British Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference “Theories and Histories: Jewish Studies Across Disciplines”, Durham, 9-11 July 2018;

2018: International conference "Rationalism and Mysticism in Jewish Philosophy: Sources and Contexts,” Saint-Petersburg State University The Department of Jewish Culture, May 29-31, 2018. 

2017: Arts, Humanities & Cultures Poster Conference, University of Leeds;

2016: DADA Techniques in East-Central Europe (1916–1930), International Conference organized by the Pet?fi Literary Museum – Kassák Museum and the Institute for Literary Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 13–15 October;
2016: Australian Association for Jewish Studies, 28th Annual Conference, 14-15 February;

2015: International Conference - The Avant-Garde and the Jews - University of Antwerp - February 2-4;

2015: The 27th Annual AAJS Conference UNSW and the Shalom Institute, Kensington, Sydney, 15-17 February;

2014: “The Jews and the Nation-States of South-Eastern Europe 1848 To the Great Depression” International Conference, Trieste,12-13 May 

Conference Organisation (as a Conference Coordinator):

2016: DAAD-sponsored Postgraduate Conference, 'German Pasts - German Futures’, 4-7 May, (University of Leeds)


Grants and scholarships:

  • Fully-funded AHRC Doctoral studentship (2015-2018) – U.K.
  • MASA Scholarship (2012-2013) – Israel 

Research interests

My research interests cut across Jewish studies, political science, and philosophy. More precisely, I am interested in the Jewish identity in the context of the politics of national unification in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Europe with a special interest in the Romanian case; my research interests include also Romanian-Jews in avant-garde movements, Romanian-Jewish history and culture from the perspective of oppression, the politics of memory, art and politics.

Current research:

My current research project is a continuation of my PhD research which explores Tristan Tzara’s and Marcel Janco’s identity formation seen from their position of struggle as Jews to come to terms with the antisemitic manifestations in Romania and Europe, lack of citizenship and lack of equal rights. These two Romanian-born Jews were active members of the European historical avant-garde, founding fathers of the Dada movement in Europe. Marcel Janco is an under-researched artist, especially in comparison to Tzara, and my current postdoc project examines the important place of Janco amongst the avant-garde artists, with his industrial design which revolutionized architecture entirely, but also as an influential though understudied figure in the discussion of ‘Jewish identity’. Janco provides an important way to think through the formation of avant-garde/artistic Jewish identity through the long twentieth century, from Romania pre-WWI to interwar Paris and Switzerland to the foundation of Israel.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>