This is a guest post from the IHR intern Paris Jones (Roehampton)
In this seminar, Oliver Watts discusses and explores the cultural differences between Jewish migrants and their non-Jewish neighbours in East End London which caused tension between the two groups. After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, there was an increase of Jews moving into the East End of London. Watts notes that the Jewish migrants were not welcomed by their non-Jewish neighbours and as they moved in, their gentile neighbours moved out.
As more Jewish migrants began to settle in London, the gentile neighbours began to worried about their way of living. They felt that the new migrants were taken all the jobs from them. Oliver Watts suggested that the attitude towards the Jewish migrants was not because of their religious background but because of the cultural differences.
The way the Jewish migrants dressed and lived was foreign to their neighbours. The Jewish migrants lived off of little and worked long hours. They rented in the areas they worked so that they could live and worked at the same place. There were many similarities between local working class and Jewish migrants. The anxiety of the influx of the Jewish migrants allowed propaganda to be created in the area. Jewish families co-existed with non-Jewish families and rarely crossed over. Not only did this cause tensions but cultural separation and misunderstanding.