Professsor David Feldman has been Director of the Pears Institute since its inception in July 2010. His research is centred on the history of minorities and their place in British society from 1600 to the present. In particular he works on three overlapping groups: Jews, immigrants and internal migrants. This work is, in the first place about the past, but it also addresses controversial issues - antisemitism, racism and immigration - in the present.
David Feldman’s work on Jews in Britain examines the social and political history of English Jews and Jewish immigrants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and he is currently exploring the representation of Jews in Victorian culture and the place of Zionism in British political culture in the twentieth century. The history of antisemitism is an important focus in both of these contexts and David is also working on a history of the concept of antisemitism. He is especially interested in the relationship of antisemitism to other racisms and exclusions.
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David is co-convenor of the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism. Find Out More »
Dr Ludivine Broch joined the Pears Institute as an Early Career Research Fellow in September 2012. Her work looks to unveil the political, professional, racial and emotional tensions of Vichy France (1940-44), and to understand the Holocaust through new social histories of the period. By examining the largely unknown history of French railwaymen under Vichy, her doctoral thesis intertwines the history of the working-classes with Holocaust history. Her new three-year project ‘Blacks, Jews and Vichy France’ argues that, in order to fully understand its role in the Holocaust, we need to explore Vichy’s attitudes towards other racial minorities. Does a history of people of colour intersect with a history of Jews in this period? She will initially carry out a study of race and racism in intellectual thought, legal policy and linguistics in 1940-1944, before examining Black Caribbean and Black Sub-Saharan experiences in French military, professional and cultural activities. Find Out More »
Dr Becky Taylor joined the Pears Institute as a Wellcome Research Fellow in September 2012. Her work considers the relationship between minority groups and British state and society in the twentieth century, and she has a particular interest in understanding how racism and intolerance are manifested at different levels of the state. Her new three year project, 'Public health and 'outsiders': British responses to refugees in the twentieth century' will use four case study groups - German/Jewish refugees in the 1930s; post-1945 Displaced Persons; Ugandan Asians in the 1970s; and post-1991 refugees/asylum seekers - to explore continuities and differences in public health policy and practice across the century. It takes as its starting point the understanding that while refugees should in law be treated the same as British nationals, fears of ‘disease’ and ‘outsiders’ have meant that this has often been contradicted on the ground. Find Out More »
The Pears Institute has a growing population of postgraduate research students. Their research interests explore issues concerned with antisemitism, religious and racial intolerance, multiculturalism, national identity and questions of difference, both in the past and present.
Our PhD students are:
Morwenna Blewitt: the use and exclusion of art restoration professionals by the Nazi kleptocracy
Sue Blunn: how and why did British attitudes to the practice of sati change between 1830
Julie Cameron: German prisoners of war in Britain during the Second World War
Helen Carr: Muslim/Jewish relations since 1960
Helen is the beneficiary of the Pears Institute Eric Salama PhD Studentship
James Perkins: Britain and ‘the East End of Europe’: the Balkans and British liberalism,
Dave Rich: campus anti-Zionism and antisemitism in the 1970s
Robin Sisson: the relationship between British Trade Unions and black and Asian workers 1968-80
Past Postgraduate Research Students
Dr Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer. His research interests include: sociology of religion, ethnicity and race, Jewish studies, transgression, youth culture and popular music. He has been a visiting lecturer and fellow in Israel, Sweden, Finland and Australia and is currently an associate lecturer at the Open university and Birkbeck, University of London. His most recent book Judaism: All That Matters was published in September 2012 (Hodder Education) and he is co-author (with Ben Gidley) of Turbulent Times, The British Jewish Community Today (Continuum, 2010). Find Out More »
Podcast: Multiculturalism and the British Jewish Community Today - a talk given by Dr Keith Kahn-Harris at the Institute’s workshop on ‘Muslims and Jews: Citizenship, Identity and Prejudice in Europe, the US and Israel’, February 2012.
Dr Madelyn Travis was a Rothschild Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute in 2011/12. Her research focuses on the formation, transmission and perception of ethnic, cultural and national identity in children’s literature and culture. Her PhD thesis examined the position of Jews in Britain through representations of Jews and Jewishness in British children’s literature by Jewish and non-Jewish writers from the 18th century to the present day. Her current project explores the cultural history of Jewish childhood in London from 1860-1930. It focuses on debates about the nature of Jewish identity and its relationship to Englishness, both within the established Jewish community and between English Jews and immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Conceiving Difference: Religion, Race and the Jews in Britain
Were Jews fundamentally different to others while possessing superficial similarities, or was the reverse the case? This article examines this question at three moments in modern Britain: the mid-18th century controversy over the naturalization of foreign-born Jews, the politics of religious emancipation in the mid-19th century and debates on immigration, empire and race in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Exploring the collaboration between Francis Galton and Joseph Jacobs in the 1880s, the essay shows that at times there was a significant interplay between Jewish and non-Jewish conceptions of the Jews’ difference. Building from this example, David Feldman proposes that there is a need for the established historiography of antisemitism to be supplemented by new work that is more alive to synchronic contexts and which sets attitudes to Jews alongside other notions of difference.
David Feldman, 'Conceiving Difference: Religion, Race and the Jews in Britain, c.1750-1900', History Workshop Journal, August 2013
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