Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism : Birkbeck University of London
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Current Research


Pears Institute staff

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 Brendan McGeever is Lecturer in the Sociology of Racialization and Antisemitism in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck. Brendan first joined the Pears Institute as an Early Career Research Fellow in April 2015, before taking up the position of Lecturer in April 2016. Brendan’s work focuses on racism, antisemitism and anti-racism historically up to the present day. He is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between racialization and antisemitism, and the extent to which they can be brought together in both teaching and research. Brendan is currently writing a monograph on the Bolshevik response to antisemitism during the Russian Revolution (1917-1921). Based on extensive archival fieldwork in Russia, Ukraine and the United States, this work does two things. First, it explores the articulation between antisemitism and revolutionary politics, focusing in particular on the racialization of class politics within the revolutionary left. Second, it examines the forms of individual and collective agency that brought about the Bolshevik response to this antisemitism and racialization. His next project will explore racism and anti-racism in the contemporary Russian Federation.

Brendan McGeever's Publications » 

Dr Nathan Kurz joined the Pears Institute as an Early Career Fellow in September 2015. His work to date has focused on human rights, memory and collective action. His Ph.D, completed at Yale University, examined the intersection of international human rights with longstanding forms of Jewish defense politics. The work used human rights as a frame to inquire how the Holocaust and the birth of Israel transformed collective Jewish politics. Drawing on sources in Hebrew, French and English from archives in five countries, it demonstrated how Jewish universalist aspirations, unrivaled among their peers, bumped up against the contradictions of postwar international order, particularly within the context of the 1948 War over Israel/Palestine, the decolonization of North Africa, and the crisis of Soviet Jewry. Nathan is currently preparing the manuscript for book publication and is also at work on several journal articles. His next project will investigate the tensions and contradictions of interwar British Zionism and the Empire.

Nathan Kurz's Publications » 

Dr Diana Popescu joined the Pears Institute as a Research Fellow, funded by the Swedish Research Council, in June 2015. Diana is a cultural historian with a background in Jewish history and Holocaust studies. Her research focuses on performativity, intergenerational memory and material culture looking specifically at the representation of the Holocaust in the visual arts, museum exhibitions and in contemporary public discourse. Diana is currently working on a collaborative research project with art historian Tanja Schult, University of Stockholm.  This project explores audience reception and engagement with artistic and educational projects commemorating the Holocaust that promote a high degree of participation and interaction. The research aims to shed light upon the broad cultural and public significance of performative commemoration and the possibilities it offers for strengthening remembrance as well as social activism, tolerance and civil responsibility.

Diana Popescu's Publications » 


Postgraduate Research Students

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 Blewett: 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
and 1870?
Julie Cameron: German prisoners of war in Britain during the Second World War
Helen Carr: Muslim-Jewish relations in Britain in the late twentieth century
Helen is the beneficiary of the Pears Institute Eric Salama PhD Studentship
Danae Karydaki: the post-war representation of the Holocaust in British culture
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

Visiting PhD students:

Ilka Schroeder, Technical University Berlin. Ilka's doctoral thesis is exploring the connection between modern antisemitism and nationalism. She joined the Pears Institute in April 2014. 
Amir Heinitz, Technical University Berlin. Amir is researching Friedrich Rosen and German Relations with the Orient, 1856-1935. He joined the Pears Institute in January 2015
Bernadette Edtmaier, University of Salzburg. Bernadette is analysing debates about antisemitism and anti-Zionism and the various ways these terms are used. She joined the Pears Institute in September 2015. 

Past Postgraduate Research Students


Honorary Research Fellows

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.

Associate Research Fellows

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.

Past Research Fellows