At least since the end of the Second World War – and Hannah Arendt’s suggestion in her 1951 Origins of Totalitarianism that the Holocaust was an outgrowth of attitudes developed in the context of European colonialism – historians and other scholars have been preoccupied with the links between antisemitism and related forms of othering and hatred that may have formed the broader context for the war’s episodes of genocidal violence. The organizers of a conference in Berlin, from 24 to 26 June 2019 – primarily affiliated with the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University of Berlin – seek to dive further into the relationship between antisemitism and racism, specifically. Observing that, “due to the global resurgence of authoritarian movements and governments, the proliferation and acceptance of racist and anti-Semitic views is dramatically increasing,” they note that the relationship between the two concepts remains “strongly contested and unclear” – even in the context of such now well-examined areas of inquiry as the link between German colonialism and Nazism.
The lack of clarity, the organizers insist, becomes evident when considering the historiography of the concepts’ ties. “Many scholars,” they write, “have argued that a central aspect of modern antisemitism was the adoption of a biological-racist definition of the ‘Jew’. Others have maintained that the linking of ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ with ‘race’ was not an invention of the late nineteenth century but could be found in the very formation of the concept of ‘race’ and that therefore racism and antisemitism were even more fundamentally connected.” In an effort to shed more light on the topic, the conference seeks “to approach this relationship from a wide range of topical, theoretical, and methodological perspectives.” It aims to consider such questions as whether other “practices or ideologies of denigration or exclusion” such as sexism or classism can shed light on the racism-antisemitism connection, the potential and pitfalls of integrating histories of the Holocaust into wider histories of violence, the ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has impacted the relationship between the two concepts, how these concepts themselves have shaped such forces as nationalism and capitalism, differences of forms of remembrance concerning racist and antisemitic acts, differences in strategies adopted by those targeted by those motivated by these ideas, and which alliances of common action against these concepts have existed – and how they have been foreclosed.
The conference language is English. It will feature keynotes by Sander Gilman of Emory and Ann Laura Stoler of the New School. Participants’ costs will be covered. A proposal of no more than one page and a CV is due by 4 February 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org.