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The Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism holds seminars, workshops and conferences for scholars, and lectures, discussions and film screenings that are open to everyone.

Antisemitism, ‘Volksgemeinschaft’ and Violence: Inclusion and Exclusion in Nazi Germany

In this lecture, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Professor Michael Wildt explores antisemitism and violence in Nazi Germany. The idea of the Volksgemeinschaft – the national community, was already widespread during the Weimar Republic. Right-wing political rhetoric gave centre stage to the inclusion of all Germans.

The Bolshevik Response to Antisemitism  in the Russian Revolution

2nd February, 2016

The Bolshevik Response to Antisemitism in the Russian Revolution

Dr Brendan McGeever, Pears Institute Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London

Based on extensive fieldwork in Russian and Ukrainian archives, this paper has two aims: first, it offers a broad analysis of the nature of the articulation between antisemitism and the revolutionary process, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of Red Army pogroms; and second, it offers an analysis of Bolshevik attempts to arrest these articulations.

Ida

7th February, 2016

Ida

Dr François Guesnet, University College London and Dr Małgorzata Pakier, POLIN, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw

This award-winning film is a moving and intimate drama about a young novice nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers from her only living relative that she is Jewish. So begins a quest to discover who she really is and where she belongs.

Race Theory, Anthropology and the Jewish Connection

Race Theory, Anthropology and the Jewish Connection

Professor Dan Stone, Royal Holloway, University of London

This lecture will deal with notions of racial purity, racial origins and the desire of pioneer anthropologists to “sort out” different racial groups. Professor Stone will conclude by connecting the discussion with today’s attempts to discover “Jewish genes” and to develop ethnically-directed medicine.

A Second Emancipation? “Philosemitism” and the Jewish Condition in Postwar  Europe

1st March, 2016

A Second Emancipation? “Philosemitism” and the Jewish Condition in Postwar Europe

Professor Daniel Cohen, Rice University, Texas

What is “philosemitism” and what role did it play in Western Europe from the end of World War Two to 1989, and in the European Union since its inception? “Philosemitism” is a concept fraught with ambiguities and often dangerously close to antisemitic discourse.

Circumcision: Identity Politics and/or Health?

Circumcision: Identity Politics and/or Health?

Professor Sander Gilman, Emory University

In this lecture the renowned scholar Sander Gilman asks what happens when religion and medicine compete or are allied; what happens when these two aspects of the public sphere overlap? In what contexts does circumcision occur as a health practice or as a risk? What are the implications of health-related circumcision for religious practice?

The Last of the Unjust

13th March, 2016

The Last of the Unjust

David Feldman, Director, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London; Jacqueline Rose, Professor for Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London

The complexity of Lanzmann’s role, and the place of his films in contemporary discussions about legacy and continuity in relation to Jewish history, will be the focus of the discussion following the film’s screening.

Ephemeral Ruins: the Fragility of Holocaust Memory

19th May, 2016

Ephemeral Ruins: the Fragility of Holocaust Memory

Dr Diana Popescu, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism; Dr Jessica Rapson, King's College London

This talk by Dr. Diana Popescu, will look at these questions from the multiple perspectives offered by memorial museums, contemporary artists and visitors from Poland and Germany.

The Racialization of Antisemitism: Turkish- and Arab-only Prevention Programmes in Germany

23rd May, 2016

The Racialization of Antisemitism: Turkish- and Arab-only Prevention Programmes in Germany

Esra Ozyurek, European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science

In this talk, Esra Ozurek examines how the struggle against antisemitism in Germany depicts Muslims as outsiders and Muslim nations as inherently prone to antisemitism.

The Emotional Toll of Antisemitism and its Consequences

The Emotional Toll of Antisemitism and its Consequences

Professor Todd Endelman, University of Michigan

In this lecture Todd Endelman explores how the persistence of hostility to Jews in social and cultural life, even in liberal states, influenced the emotional life and self-understanding of Jews in Western and Central Europe and the United States, and how this, in turn, contributed to indifference to Judaism and alienation from Jewish communal attachments.

The Discourse of ‘Holocaust Inversion’ in Britain During the 2014 Gaza Conflict: Contexts, Presences and Meaning

13th June, 2016

The Discourse of ‘Holocaust Inversion’ in Britain During the 2014 Gaza Conflict: Contexts, Presences and Meaning

Alan Johnson, Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre

In this talk Alan Johnson  will map the contexts and the presences of the discourse during Operation Protective Edge, before examining a debate that took place in the UK about the meaning of the discourse; specifically, whether the Inversion should be considered merely offensive and hurtful or, also, as antisemitic discourse. 

Placeless People: What Can History Tell Us About Today’s Refugee Crises?

Placeless People: What Can History Tell Us About Today’s Refugee Crises?

Representatives of Freed Voices; Peter Gatrell, University of Manchester; Omah Khan, Runnymede Trust; Yousef Qasmiyeh, poet; Jessica Reinisch, Birkbeck, University of London; Daniel Trilling, author; and Colin Yeo, Barrister and blogger, Garden Court Chambers

The aim of the workshop is to bring together experts in a range of fields to explore how history, in its broadest political, cultural and social senses, can usefully be employed to inform our understanding of the current refugee crisis and help shape our responses to it.

Blood Libels: from the Middle Ages to the Modern World

27th June, 2016

Blood Libels: from the Middle Ages to the Modern World

Marc David Baer, London School of Economics and Political Science; Anthony Bale, Birkbeck, University of London; Susan Einbinder, University of Connecticut; Hillel Kieval, Washington University in St. Louis; Miri Rubin, Queen Mary, University of London and Julian Weiss, King’s College London

This workshop will explore how blood, in its regulation and its representation, has been interpreted and traded as a symbol between Jews and non-Jews, and in particular between Christians and Jews, through the centuries – from the biblical past to the present day.

Protecting and Offending Jews: Speech, Law and Policy

Protecting and Offending Jews: Speech, Law and Policy

Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission; Paul Iganski, Lancaster University; Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust; Brendan McGeever, Birkbeck, University of London, and Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge

The aim of the symposium is twofold. First, it is to consider those aspects of discourse which offend Jews. Second, in view of growing concern over antisemitism, the law should be augmented or amended to protect Jews further or whether current laws that target discrimination and prejudice give adequate protection.

Blood Inscriptions: Science, Modernity, and Ritual Murder in Fin de Siècle Europe

Blood Inscriptions: Science, Modernity, and Ritual Murder in Fin de Siècle Europe

Professor Hillel Kieval, Washington University in St. Louis

When trials against Jews for the “ritual murder”of Christians reappeared in Central Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century they seemed to be a throwback to the Middle Ages. 

Keeping the Memory of the Holocaust Alive: Possibilities and Limitations of Performative Practices of Commemoration

25th October, 2016

Keeping the Memory of the Holocaust Alive: Possibilities and Limitations of Performative Practices of Commemoration

Dr Diana Popescu, Pears Institute Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London

This paper will reflect critically on the impact which experiential forms of engaging with this history have upon contemporary audiences, and on the broader challenges of communicating about the Holocaust without it becoming a moral lesson, or a cultural commodity.

The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust

Lisa Leff explores the shifting contours of Jewish nationalist ideas in the mid-twentieth century, and grapples with the vexing problem of where the material remnants of the Jewish past are best kept.

Left/Right Crossover Movements

16th November, 2016

Left/Right Crossover Movements

Spencer Sunshine

Spencer Sunshine will talk about these new forms of “unorthodox” fascism and their similarities and differences with European movements, based on his forthcoming book for Routledge’s Fascism and the Far Right series.

Challenging Myths and Misconceptions: Understanding the Nazi Camps and the Holocaust

Challenging Myths and Misconceptions: Understanding the Nazi Camps and the Holocaust

Sir Richard J. Evans, Wolfson College, Cambridge; Tom Haward, UCL Centre for Holocaust Education, London; Yiftach Meiri, International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Nikolaus Wachsmann, Birkbeck, University of London; Kim Wünschmann, Sussex University. Chaired by David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London.

Is Holocaust education failing? Many children currently leave school without a clear understanding of the Holocaust: they are confused about the perpetrators, about the concentration camps and their function.

Antisemitism and Antiziganism: Jews and Romanies in the Shadow of Genocide

24th November, 2016

Antisemitism and Antiziganism: Jews and Romanies in the Shadow of Genocide

Ari Joskowicz, Vanderbilt University

This talk traces the entanglement of Jewish and Romani (Gypsy) history in the twentieth and early twenty-first century, from the killing fields of Hitler’s Europe to the postwar creation of archives, debates over compensation, and contemporary Holocaust memorials.

Mein Kampf Today: Ideology, Memory and the Question of Censorship – Panel Discussion

Mein Kampf Today: Ideology, Memory and the Question of Censorship – Panel Discussion

David Aaronovitch, columnist The Times; Neil Gregor, University of Southampton and Maiken Umbach, University of Nottingham

In Germany, until this year, it was illegal to print copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The State of Bavaria held the copyright and banned publication of the book. In January 2016 the copyright expired and the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich published a scholarly edition which runs to two enormous volumes, complete with a lengthy introduction and copious annotation.

Contesting Jewish Loyalties: The First World War and Beyond

15th December, 2016

Contesting Jewish Loyalties: The First World War and Beyond

Christoph Jahr, Humbolt University of Berlin; Carsten Schapkow, University of Oklahoma; Ulrich Wyrwa, Technical University Berlin and Mirjam Zadoff, Indiana University, Bloomington

This conference, will explore the multifaceted aspects of the question of Jewish loyalties. Starting with the Dreyfus affair, it will consider the degree to which individual Jews and Jewish communities in Europe, the US and elsewhere engaged with the question of loyalty before, during and after the First World War, in a broad interdisciplinary and transnational context.

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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