Scholars 2006

2006 Past - Preserving Cultural Heritage

Lebovic Nitzan

Lebovic Nitzan

Personal Details: 
Dept. of History - University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA

Title of Research: 
"Hugo Bergmann and the German-Jewish Image of Life"


At the center of my post-doctoral study is Hugo Bergman, eventually the first rector of Hebrew University and among the founders of the first Israeli peace group, "Brith Shalom." Among his close friends one finds not only Franz Kafka and Martin Buber, but also Emil Utitz, Max Brod, Felix Weltsch, Hans Kohn, and, later, Jacob Taubes, Gershom Scholem, and Salomon Friedrich Rothschild.

In the letters exchanged by the members of this group one finds many topics then virtually taboo, such as political theology, anti-Freudian psychology, aesthetic typology, and the radical Lebensphilosophie [Life-Philosophy]. Many of these issues were identified during the 1950s with the intellectual streams that supported the German right wing of the 1920s.

Surprisingly, much of the counter-discussion took place within the boundaries and concern for Jewish studies, and later for the Israeli politics of the 1950s, or rather its humanist alternative. Using theology as a tool for political reform, Bergman tried to convince David Ben Gurion and Geulah Cohen, among others, in the new radical horizons his Jewish political theology developed.

Future Plans:
I hope to find a position and finish the dissertation manuscript I was working on, for publication (From Philosophy of Life to Philosophy of Death: Ludwig Klages's Lebensphilosophie, defended at UCLA, Summer of 2005).

Update: November 2010 

My new details are (since the beg. of this year); Assistant Professor of History and the Apter Chair for Holocuast Studeis and Ethical Values, Lehigh University, PA.

Update December 2016

Nitzan Lebovic is an associate professor of history and the Apter Chair of Holocaust studies and Ethical Values at Lehigh University. He received his BA in the History and Theory of Literature from Tel Aviv University and his PhD from UCLA. His first book, titled The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics (2013) focused on the circle around the Lebensphilosopher and anti-Semitic thinker Ludwig Klages. His second book, about Zionism and Melancholia: The Short Life of Israel Zarchiwas publishedin Hebrew in 2015 and is expected soon in English. Nitzan is also the Co-editor of The Politics of Nihilism(2014)  and of Catastrophe: A History and Theory of an Operative Concept (2014), and of special issues of Rethinking History (Nihilism), Zmanim (Religion and Power), and The New German Critique (Political Theology).