Nathaniel Deutsch-- professor of history and co-director of UCSC’s Center for Jewish Studies--has received the 2013 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies for The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement (Harvard University Press, 2011).

The Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards recognize and promote outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies and honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field--illustrating “rigorous research, theoretical sophistication, innovative methodology, and excellent writing.”

Designed to recognize all areas of Jewish Studies research, the Association for Jewish Studies annually honors books in three different subject areas, ranging from history, philosophy, and literature to the arts, anthropology and media studies

The award, which comes with a prize of $5,000, was given to Deutsch this year in the category of Social Science, Anthropology, and Folklore.

His book, The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement offers the first complete translation of a little known but invaluable ethnographic questionnaire--and the story of an ambitious attempt to document a culture during an extraordinarily volatile time in world history.

As Deutsch noted when the book was published, completing it was a laborious undertaking that took him nearly eight years to complete.

“I felt like it almost killed me, but it was well worth it,” said Deutsch. “It involved grueling scholarship and research—my whole house was covered for years with all kinds of books in many different languages.”

In addition to his efforts as a history professor and his work as co-director of the Center for Jewish Studies, Deutsch is also the director of UCSC’s Institute for Humanities Research.

A specialist in Judaism, Gnosticism, and early Christianity, Deutsch received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006.