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A major international conference, ‘Narratives of Violence,’ was conceived by the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism (ICRAR) and hosted by the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University.

Academics from all over the world will be exploring the ways in which violence against religious groups, ethnic groups and visible minorities, as well as against women and sexual minorities, has been incorporated into larger political projects and into the subsequent construction of different communities.

Among the questions we will ask: How have different narratives of anti-Jewish violence been imagined, constructed, and memorialized in various places and times?  How have authors, artists and other actors implemented these narratives towards a variety of social, political and religious goals?  Looking more broadly, we hope to understand what the analysis and deconstruction of these narratives of anti-Jewish violence can tell us about the nature of ethnic, religious and national communities since the Middle Ages.  More specifically, we will ask what the comparison of these narratives with those of other communities can tell us about the deeper connections between narratives of violence and the construction of communities, as well as the integration of the memory of violence into regnant conceptions of society, self and other.

Our approach is interdisciplinary, and the conference will include scholars of all fields, including history, literature, cultural studies, and the social sciences.  The intertwined themes that will be covered in the conference include:

  • Representations of violence in elite and popular culture (film, television, folklore, music, literature, visual arts, internet)
  • Historiographical trends (use of oral history, documentation, historical commissions, genocide studies, and gender studies)
  • Religious portrayals and memorialization (matyrologies, liturgy, religious ritual/ceremony)
  • Ideological trends (violence in national narratives, political narratives, museums, monuments, lieux de mémoire)

The conference ‘Narratives of Violence’ will be held at Central European University in Budapest on June 16-18, 2014. 


 

International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism

Revitalising the study of antisemitism: The International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism (ICRAR) involves leading scholars from universities and institutes across Europe, Israel and the US who share the common goal of revitalising and reshaping the study of antisemitism. It was launched in November 2011.

The challenge: Antisemitism is an important and a contentious problem. Yet our understanding of it remains under-developed. There are two reasons for this.

First, the study of antisemitism stands in isolation – set apart from contemporary, intellectual currents that encourage new thinking and approaches. It has become divorced from related fields of scholarly inquiry such as Jewish studies and race studies. Similarly, a growing body of work on hostility to Jews by scholars who approach the subject from a broader set of concerns, gender studies or the history of Christianity for example, has made little impression on scholars who specialise in antisemitism. As a result, theoretical and methodological approaches which have invigorated other fields in recent decades have made little impact on the study of antisemitism.

The second reason relates to the politicisation of antisemitism. Too often its study has been shaped and corralled by immediate political concerns. This has not only foreshortened our understanding of antisemitism in the past and present but it has also undermined the specific contribution academics can make to overcome it.

Aims: The goal of the Consortium is to reshape and revitalise the study of antisemitism through rigorous, independent inquiry. We are predominantly a group of historians, but in our collective endeavour we will reach out across disciplinary boundaries. In so doing, we aim to encourage scholars to re-evaluate the tools they bring to the study of antisemitism, to question the predominant theoretical and methodological approaches they use, to innovate, and to extend the topics considered a part of the field.

In realising this goal we will promote a contextualised and comparative understanding of antisemitism. A contextualised understanding will seek to uncover the content, meanings, functions and dynamics of antisemitism – as it occurred in the past and recurs in the present. A comparative approach will consider antisemitism over time and place. Importantly, it will also explore the connections between antisemitism and other racisms. Indeed, the relationship of antisemitism to racism both historically and today will be a particular concern for us.

Promoting new thinking

The Consortium will organise:

  • Annual Conferences or Workshops
  • Summer schools
  • Publications

These will be interdisciplinary in scope, explore the cross-currents of time and place and address topical and theoretical questions and issues. Taking examples from the past to the present day, historical and multidisciplinary perspectives will aid our understanding of contemporary concerns and phenomena.

The Consortium’s first conference, Boycotts – Past and Present was held in London on 19-21 June 2013, hosted by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.

The Consortium’s second conference, Narratives of Violence will be held in Budapest on 16-18 June 2014, hosted by the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University.

Consortium members

  • David Feldman, Director, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Scott Ury, Head, Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism, Tel Aviv University
  • François Guesnet, Sidney and Elizabeth Corob Reader in Modern Jewish History, University College London
  • Jonathan Judaken, Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Veronika Lipphardt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science; Friedrich Meinecke Institute, Free University, Berlin.
  • Michael Miller, Central European University, Budapest
  • Amos Morris-Reich, University of Haifa; Director, Bucerius Institute for Research of Contemporary German History and Society, Haifa
  • Maurice Samuels, Director, Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Director, Center for Research on Antisemitism, Technical University, Berlin

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