Re-Framing American Jewish History and Thought: New Transnational Perspectives (Potsdam, July 20-22, 2016)

Deadline: February 15, 2016

American Jewry, despite its size, cultural productivity, and influence on many levels, has hardly begun to develop as a field of scholarship outside the U.S. itself. Recently, however, the growing recognition of the interaction between American and other Jewries over time and into the present has sparked a novel wave of interest. European, Latin American, and Israeli-based scholars are beginning to add their voices to the scholarly discourse, complementing the dominant American perspective. This may presage a fruitful dialogue between American specialists and others. This conference aims to further encourage this development by bringing together younger and senior scholars involved in such research. We endorse an interdisciplinary approach that is open to historians, migration researchers, scholars of religion, theology, Jewish thought, and cultural and literary studies among other fields of knowledge.

We welcome papers on a broad range of subjects under the umbrella of the transnational approach. Those could include:

  • The migration of people and institutions between various countries and North America, with an emphasis on Jewish communities and how they mutually affected each other
  • The impact of the American or European backgrounds of individuals and groups on their Jewish activities in other communities
  • The transfer, translation, and adaptation of texts, ideas, and practices, particularly in the context of the sociology of religion, cultural modernization, and Jewish global awareness
  • Developments in Jewish theology within the American historical context and their relations to European models of religious thought
  • The Holocaust and American Jewry, and the interrelations between American and other Jewries in its aftermath
  • Comparative perspectives that place American Jewry in the context of the experiences of other modern Jewish communities
  • Representations and ideas of “America” and other venues of Jewish life and their location within Jewish history as well as in the present and future
  • Linguistic and cultural translations between languages and cultures as expressions of transformations through the encounter of American and other Jewries

The conference will be sponsored by the School of Jewish Theology at University of Potsdam, near Berlin/Germany. The working language of the meeting will be English. Applicants should submit abstracts of 300 words for 20-minute papers and five lines of biographical information by February 15 to Conference.American.Jewry@gmail.com.

Pending final budget confirmation, the conference organizers will cover travel and accommodation expenses for participants. Please indicate in your application if you have institutional support or other means to fund your trip. For organizational questions, please contact Markus Krah of the Potsdam School of Jewish Theology (markus.krah@uni-potsdam.de).

The conference will be organized by Elisabeth Gallas (Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University), Anton Hieke (independent scholar), David Juenger (Free University Berlin, Center for Jewish Studies/ German Historical Institute, Washington D.C.), Ulrike Kleinecke (University of Lucerne), and Markus Krah (University of Potsdam).


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