Derek Penslar is Visiting Professor of History at Harvard, where in July he will assume the William Lee Frost Chair in Modern Jewish History. Penslar approaches modern Jewish history from a transnational and global perspective. His work encompasses the history of the Jews in modern West and Central Europe, North America, and Palestine/Israel. He is particularly interested in the relationship between modern Israel and diaspora Jewish societies, global nationalist movements, European colonialism, and post-colonial states.
Penslar has taught at Indiana University, Bloomington, the University of Toronto, and Oxford University, where he served as the inaugural Stanley Lewis Professor of Modern Israel Studies from 2012 until 2016. He co-edits The Journal of Israeli History and serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Jewish Studies, Jewish Social Studies, Israel Studies, and the Association of Jewish Studies Review. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Academy for Jewish Research.
Penslar's books include Zionism and Technocracy: The Engineering of Jewish Settlement in Palestine, 1870-1918 (1991); In Search of Jewish Community: Jewish Identities in Germany and Austria, 1918-1933 (1998, co-edited with Michael Brenner), Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001); Orientalism and the Jews (co-edited with Ivan Kalmar, 2004), Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective (2006); The Origins of the State of Israel 1882-1948: A Documentary History (with Eran Kaplan, 2011). and Jews and the Military: A History (2013).
He is currently completing a biography of Theodor Herz for Yale University Press’ “Jewish Lives” series and beginning a book project titled "Zionism: An Emotional State" (for Rutgers University Press’ “Keywords in Jewish Studies” series).