Latest Update: Welcome to the website of the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, formerly the Pears Institute.

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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.

Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: current international research on survivors of Nazi persecution

This conference is a follow-up to the five successful conferences, which took place at Imperial War Museum London in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015. It builds on areas previously investigated, and also opens up new fields of academic enquiry. It brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines who are engaged in research on […]

‘Please mind the gap’: Integrated histories and geographies of the Holocaust and Holocaust memory

In this lecture Tim Cole explores the gaps within Holocaust scholarship and some of the ways that those gaps have been filled by scholars. In large part, calls for integration have revolved around narrating stories that bring together perpetrator and victim historiographies.

Shaming with Images: German Responses to Atrocity Films, 1945-46

Shaming with Images: German Responses to Atrocity Films, 1945-46

Ulrike Weckel, Justus Liebig University, Gießen Germany

Starting with the premise that many Germans regarded the Allies­’ screenings of these atrocity films as acts of public shaming, Ulrike Weckel explains how the dichotomy of success or failure oversimplifies the historical situation and discusses some of the complexities involved in understanding the attitudes and actions of the shamed.

Freaks of Nature: Visualizing the Jew in the Soviet Union

22nd February, 2018

Freaks of Nature: Visualizing the Jew in the Soviet Union

Robert Weinberg, Swarthmore College

This talk examines the visual depiction of Jews, Judaism, and Jehovah in 1920s Soviet Russia. It does so by examining the pages of The Atheist at the Workbench, a journal published by the Bolsheviks to promote atheism. 

Iskateli schast’ia – Seekers of Happiness

25th February, 2018

Iskateli schast’ia – Seekers of Happiness

Dr Claire Le Foll, University of Southampton; Professor Philip Spencer, Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, University of London, Emeritus Professor, Kingston University; and Professor Robert Weinberg, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania

This film tells the story of one Jewish family’s migration to the new ‘Soviet Zion’ and their experiences as settlers on a collective farm as they build their new life. In the panel discussion speakers will consider questions the film raises about the history of Jews under communism and the relationship between Zionism and the Soviet project.

Understanding Prejudice: Stigma, Self-Esteem and the Dynamics of Antisemitism & Islamophobia

This talk explores the consequences of prejudice against German Jews in the Weimar Republic, and British Muslims in contemporary, post-9/11 England. It focuses on the responses of targets of antisemitic and Islamophobic prejudices, and the social and political dynamics underpinning them.

The Commissar

15th April, 2018

The Commissar

Professor Marat Grinberg, Reed College, Oregon; Professor Jeremy Hicks, Queen Mary, University of London; Dr Rachel Morley, University College London

Based on a short story by Russian Jewish writer Vasilii Grossman, the film chronicles the dramatic journey of Klavdia Vavilova, a pregnant Red Army commissar during the Russian Revolution. In the panel discussion speakers will explore issues the film raises about both antisemitism and gender in the Russian Revolution.

Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today: is there a connection? Findings and recommendations from a five-nation study

23rd April, 2018

Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today: is there a connection? Findings and recommendations from a five-nation study

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London and expert panel: Belgium - Marco Martiniello and Muriel Sacco; France - Nonna Mayer and Elodie Druez; Netherlands - Leo Lucassen and Annemarike Stremmelaar; Germany - Mathias Berek; United Kingdom - Ben Gidley

This Symposium will present the findings and recommendations of a major study into immigration and antisemitism in Western Europe.

Jews, Muslims, Frenchmen: The Promises and Perils of Fraternity

Jews, Muslims, Frenchmen: The Promises and Perils of Fraternity

Professor Ethan Katz, University of Cincinnati

In this talk, Professor Katz discusses the findings from his prize-winning book, The Burdens of Brotherhood. He traces the simultaneous development of coexistence and conflict among Jews and Muslims in France across the twentieth century and up to our own time.

Curating Sound for Difficult Histories Colloquium

15th May, 2018

Curating Sound for Difficult Histories Colloquium

Ramon De Marco, sound designer; Stephen Frosh, Birkbeck, University of London, Val Kuklowsky, sound designer/editor; and Esther Shalev-Gerz, artist.

Talks, screenings and discussions will explore how soundscapes – music, voices, speech, noise and silence – evoke difficult histories, in particular the Holocaust. By looking at sound editing in film, music composition, installation art and museum exhibitions we will address questions around representation, remembering, authenticity and affect.

The Rights of the Roma: The Struggle of Citizenship in Postwar Czechoslovakia

30th May, 2018

The Rights of the Roma: The Struggle of Citizenship in Postwar Czechoslovakia

Celia Donert, University of Liverpool; Michael Stewart, University College London and Becky Taylor, University of East Anglia

Roma often appear as victims in human rights narratives; instead, this book draws on extensive original research in Czech and Slovak archives, sociological and ethnographic studies, and oral histories to foreground Romani activists as advocates for their own rights under socialism.

Jews of Colour: Race and Afro-Jewishness

Jews of Colour: Race and Afro-Jewishness

Professor Lewis Gordon, University of Connecticut

As some Jews became ‘white’ in the twentieth century, large groups of non-white Jews simply disappeared, or at least disappeared as Jews. Professor Lewis Gordon explores some unique challenges and dynamics faced specifically by Afro-Jews, in light of the tendency in Euromodern scholarship to erase the African elements, in what is now known as ‘western’ history and its religions.

Decolonial Judaism: Jews, Antisemitism and the Global South

4th July, 2018

Decolonial Judaism: Jews, Antisemitism and the Global South

Professor Santiago Slabodsky, Hofstra University - New York

Having suffered discrimination in Europe, Jews were able to become some of the sharpest critics of societal inequalities. In this lecture, Professor Santiago Slabodsky offers an alternative framework for understanding Jewish responses to antisemitism and Jewish history more broadly.

After Multiculturalism? Conversations between History and Sociology

After Multiculturalism? Conversations between History and Sociology

Bill Schwarz, Queen Mary, University of London and Satnam Virdee, University of Glasgow

In three dynamic conversations, established and emerging international scholars of contemporary Britain discuss: the past and present of ‘multiculturalism’; the shifting politics of class, race and difference in post-1968 Britain; and the role and responsibilities of anti-racist scholarship.

Political Antisemitism and the Early Phantasms of European Fascism

23rd October, 2018

Political Antisemitism and the Early Phantasms of European Fascism

Grzegorz Krzywiec, Polish Academy of Sciences

This talk will examine the impact of the transnational circulation of ideas on the early fascist imagination. In doing so, we will also ask how and to what extent a transnational and cultural approach can contribute to our understanding of fascism as a European phenomenon.

Challenging Denial: from Slavery to the Holocaust

Challenging Denial: from Slavery to the Holocaust

Dr Caroline Bressey, University College London; Dr Keith Kahn-Harris, Birkbeck, University of London and Leo Baeck College; Professor Bruna Seu, Birkbeck, University of London

Laws prohibiting the denial of the Holocaust have been passed in many countries, yet Holocaust denial is still with us. At the same time, denial contributes to the erasure of the history of African enslavement in UK politics and wider culture.

Yiddish Exceptionalism: Lynching, Race, and Racism in Joseph Opatoshu’s American Fiction

19th November, 2018

Yiddish Exceptionalism: Lynching, Race, and Racism in Joseph Opatoshu’s American Fiction

Marc Caplan, Senior Research Fellow, Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften (IFK), Kunstuniversität Linz, Vienna

Racism against African Americans was a preoccupation among Jewish radicals of the early twentieth century. This lecture will focus on Lintsheray in the context of the lynching motif in Yiddish literature as well as contemporaneous depictions in African-American fiction.

The Holocaust and Yiddish

20th November, 2018

The Holocaust and Yiddish

Miriam Schulz, Columbia University

Drawing on several lexicographical projects of Yiddish which trace its linguistic mutations under Nazi persecution, Miriam Schulz discusses the phenomenon of so-called khurbn-Yiddish (Holocaust-Yiddish) as a key to retracing Jewish culture in extremis.

1938 in Retrospect

1938 in Retrospect

Professor Mary Fulbrook, University College London; Professor Nicholas Stargardt, University of Oxford; Dr Jennifer Craig-Norton, University of Southampton

2018 marks the eightieth anniversary of momentous events in the history of Nazi Germany: the violence of Kristallnacht, the Anschluss (the incorporation of Austria within Germany), the German takeover of the Sudetenland, and the inception of the Kindertransport, all of which took place in 1938. Our panel of experts will explore how these events unfolded, analyse their historical significance and ask, how should we remember them today?

Jews, the Left, and Antisemitism: International Perspectives

5th December, 2018

Jews, the Left, and Antisemitism: International Perspectives

Jack Jacobs, The City University of New York; Jonathan Judaken, Rhodes College; Bryan Cheyette, University of Reading; Nira Yuval-Davis, University of East London; Tony Michels, University of Wisconsin; Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Technical University, Berlin; Danny Gutwein, University of Haifa

This international workshop brings speakers from Europe, the United States and Israel to explore the theoretical, historical and comparative perspectives on the relationship between the Left, Jews and antisemitism. In doing so it also aims to shed light on current controversies concerning antisemitism in the Labour Party and the British Left more widely.

Professor David Feldman, Director – 4

Our work shows how antisemitism has often been intertwined with anti-Muslim, anti-migrant, anti-black and anti-Irish bigotries. Antisemitism and other racisms should not be considered in isolation and still less in competition.

Professor David Feldman, Director

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