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Moses Finkelstein and the American Scene: The Political Formation of Moses Finley, 1932–1955

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reconstructs the lifelong intertwining of scholarship and politics that distinguishes Moses Finley from most other historians ancient. Finley's 'American Scene' is not a backdrop or stage set, but a sequence of events in which he was an agent. His mature understanding of land tenure, labor practices, political participation, class and ethnic tensions, and other topics followed not only study of but participation in three tumultuous decades of American history. Finley changed his name in the autumn of 1946, and took a position at Rutgers in 1947. His activities as Moses Finkelstein can be roughly grouped. These years of mixed scholarly and political activity were highly socialized: at every stage after the master's thesis, Finkelstein is functioning as a member in a group, often as the effective leader. These interactions deepened Finkelstein's political understanding, without any individual or theory fully 'influencing' him as if being siphoned between two vessels.

Keywords: Finley's 'American Scene'; Moses Finkelstein; political activity



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