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Research

The Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism explores the contemporary and historical distinctiveness of antisemitism. We connect research on antisemitism to the wider study of racialization and intolerance.

Overview

Our research programme supports the Institute’s ambition to make a difference to how we understand antisemitism. We take our findings and insights into the public sphere, and by doing so contribute to building a better future.

The Institute’s two major research themes respond to the challenges of the twenty-first century:

Antisemitism: a global phenomenon

The transnational and global dimensions of antisemitism have become increasingly apparent, not least due to the development of social media.

Our research addresses this phenomenon and does so, in part, by placing it in historical perspective. We ask, is global antisemitism a new development? In what ways did it exist before the rise of social media? What are the genuinely novel features of contemporary antisemitism?

Three current research projects ask how Jews’ experiences and perceptions of antisemitism in the first half of the twentieth century were shaped by global and transnational phenomena:

A fourth project, Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories sheds a unique light on attempts to comprehend global power relations through antisemitism. This pathbreaking research will enable the Institute to make further effective public and policy interventions in comprehending and combatting antisemitism in the 21st century.

Understanding antisemitism and racism

The study of antisemitism has the capacity to deepen and transform our understanding of racism. At the same time, our understanding of antisemitism has much to gain from closer engagement with research on racism, racialization and ethno-nationalism.

In recent years the study of racism has focused on the legacies of colonialism, slavery and migration from the Global South. This has been a necessary and significant development. Regrettably, this focus has tended to eclipse the study of antisemitism. here is an urgent need to pursue a research-based understanding of antisemitism which bridges this growing divide and demonstrates how the study of antisemitism is relevant to everyone who aims to understand the persistence and dynamics of racism in the contemporary world.

Two major publications which contribute to this debate, are nearing completion:

Two pioneering research projects that examine antisemitism in the context of nation building and ethno-nationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are underway:

Statement – 1

The founding principle of the Institute is that the study of antisemitism is vital to understanding racialization, racism and religious intolerance.

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