CHARLOTTE BLOOMBERG PROFESSORSHIP IN THE HUMANITIES
Established in 1983 by Michael R. Bloomberg in honor of his mother

CHARLOTTE BLOOMBERG graduated from high school at the age of 16 and completed her undergraduate studies at New York University. Both she and her husband, William Bloomberg, were employed by dairy companies in the northeast. Mrs. Bloomberg was active in cultural and civic life in Medford, Massachusetts, and metropolitan Boston. She died in 2011 at the age of 102.

 

MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, Engr 1964, is the 108th Mayor of the City of New York; a founder of Bloomberg LP, a global financial data and media company; and a philanthropist whose first charitable donation was a $5 check to Johns Hopkins' alumni association, given immediately after graduation. He chaired Johns Hopkins' Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2002 and has donated over $1 billion to the university. The Bloomberg School of Public Health was renamed in his honor.

 

Prior to joining the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University, MARINA RUSTOW, who holds the Charlotte Bloomberg Professorship in the Humanities, taught for seven years at Emory University, holding a joint appointment in the Department of History at the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, and a secondary appointment in the Department of Middle East and South Asian Studies. Dr. Rustow received her doctorate from the History Department at Columbia University in 2004, and also received an MA in Religion from Columbia in 1998.

Her research focuses on the Jewish communities of the medieval Mediterranean and, more broadly, medieval Middle Eastern history. She works mainly on documentary texts written in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic (a range of Arabic dialects written in Hebrew script), Hebrew and Aramaic. Dr. Rustow’s first book, Heresy and the Politics of Community: The Jews of the Fatimid Caliphate (Cornell University Press, 2008), was the result of research on the interplay of religious sectarianism and communal politics among Mediterranean Jews, from the Fatimid conquest of Egypt in 969 until the Frankish conquests in Syria-Palestine in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. In 2008, Marina Rustow won the highly prestigious Salo Wittamayer Baron Book Prize for the most outstanding first book in Jewish Studies for this work.

Dr. Rustow also studies the Jews of Sicily, who continued to speak, read, and write Arabic (usually in Hebrew characters) long after the defeat of Muslim rule on the island ca. 1060 and the expulsion of the Muslims in 1246. The persistence of Arabic among Sicilian Jews has usually been explained as either a cause or a consequence of their putative isolation as a minority. But both the documentary and literary sources in Judeo-Arabic from Sicily suggest the opposite: that Arabic offered Jews coveted roles as cultural and linguistic mediators and, therefore, social privileges that they jealously guarded and deployed to various ends depending on who was ruling.