Michael Miller, Central European University, Budapest. Sponsors: CREES, Frankel Center.
In 1929, Elizabeth Simon won the Miss Hungary beauty pageant and then went on to become Miss Europa. After Hungary’s defeat in World War I and its huge territorial losses in 1920, the victory of Miss Hungary over all of the other European contestants was welcomed by Hungarian nationalists as a sign of Hungary’s indomitable spirit…until they realized that Elizabeth Simon was a Jew. This talk will examine the debates in interwar Europe about the Jewish Question, national identity and “Jewish” beauty. It will also compare the beauty pageant in Hungary to other “Jewish” beauty pageants in the 1920s, such as the Miss Judea pageant in Warsaw, Poland, and the Queen Esther pageant in Tel Aviv.
Michael Miller is an associate professor in the nationalism studies program at Central European University in Budapest, where he also helped to establish the Jewish studies program. He received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, where he specialized in Jewish and Central European history. His research focuses on the impact of nationality conflicts on the religious, cultural, and political development of Central European Jewry in the nineteenth century. He has recently published articles in Slavic Review, Austrian History Yearbook,Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook,and Múlt és Jövo. Miller’s book manuscript, Rabbis and Revolution: The Jews of Moravia in the Age of Emancipation, has recently been published by Stanford UP.