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Blood – Uniting and Dividing

November 2015 - February 2016

This cutting-edge exhibition considered the real and symbolic links between Christians and Jews and confronts some of the most difficult issues surrounding Jewish culture and identity: the rite of circumcision, the slander of the blood libel, and ideas of the Jewish ‘race’ and of racial purity.

An accompanying publication, Blood – reflections on what unites and divides us, co-edited by Anthony Bale and David Feldman, expands on the exhibition’s themes, with specially commissioned essays from leading international scholars. Download a copy.

A series of events explored themes from the exhibition.

Blood Fractions: the Octoroon and Other Fantasies

26th November, 2015

Blood Fractions: the Octoroon and Other Fantasies

Professor Roger Luckhurst, Birkbeck, University of London

In Victorian culture, the octoroon (a person with one-eighth black blood) was a kind of vanishing point, a focus of anxiety about detecting the taint of ‘bad’ blood. While in the twentieth century, the Nazis sought to protect ‘pure’ German blood from becoming tainted by the blood of Jews. Professor Luckhurst explores literary and cultural representations of mixed bloods.

Genealogies of the Future

9th December, 2015

Genealogies of the Future

Professor Jonathan Boyarin, Cornell University

Drawing on documents ranging from a late story by Grace Paley, to recent ethnography of Yiddish philanthropy as fictive kinship, to artistic re-imaginings of a lost family album, Professor Boyarin will begin to articulate the hopes and anxieties underlying the tenuous image of the future in which our records of the past take shape. 

Race Theory, Anthropology and the Jewish Connection

9th February, 2016

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.

Circumcision: Identity Politics and/or Health?

8th March, 2016

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?

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.

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

28th June, 2016

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. 

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