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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of History

Faculty Directory

Saskia Coenen Snyder

Associate Professor of History

Office: 139 Gambrell Hall
Degrees: B.A. University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
M.A. University of Utrecht, The Netherlands
Ph.D. University of Michigan
Phone: (803) 777-7472
Research Interests: European Jewish History
Curriculum vitae: Download PDF


Professor Coenen Snyder teaches modern Jewish history and European civilizations courses, as well as a specialized senior seminar on the Holocaust. She also offers graduate courses in nineteenth-century European history and in dissertation prospectus writing.

Professor Coenen Snyder is actively involved in the Jewish Studies Program at USC, which introduces undergraduate students to Jewish history, literature, religion, politics, and culture. Her own interests lie particularly in the relationship between the built environment and Jewish identity formation in nineteenth century Europe. Her first book, a comparative study of synagogue building and synagogue architecture in Amsterdam, London, Paris, and Berlin explores how Jewish religious edifices became central to the public face of Judaism. Building a Public Judaism: Synagogues and Jewish Identity in Nineteenth-Century Europe, which aims to cross the conceptual boundaries of history, architecture, and urban studies, was published by Harvard University Press in 2013.

She has also written book chapters on European Jewish history in the edited volumes City Limits: Interdisciplinary Essays on the Historical European City (McGill-Queen University Press, 2011), Jewish and Non-Jewish Spaces in the Urban Context (forthcoming, Neofelis Verlag, 2015), and Re-examining the Jews of Modern France: Images and Identities (forthcoming, Brill 2016). Her journal articles have appeared in Jewish History (2012) and Studies in Contemporary Jewry (forthcoming Volume 30, 2016).

Current Activities 

Professor Coenen Snyder’s new book project explores the nineteenth-century diamond trade and the role of Jewish communities in it. Transatlantic in its approach, this material culture study follows the diamond from South-African mines, to factories in Amsterdam and Antwerp, to jewelry stores and bourgeois consumer circles in London and New York. Tentatively titled “Diasporic Gems: Diamonds, Jews, and Nineteenth-Century Global Commerce,” this study is simultaneously global and local, investigating how a precious stone reached across lines of class, culture, and ethnicity. With the support of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Award,

The Office of the Provost’s Humanities Grant, and the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies Faculty Research Award, she has begun archival research for this exciting new project.