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 joined the Pears Institute as an Early Career Research Fellow in April 2015. His work focusses on racism, antisemitism and anti-racism historically up to the present day. In particular, he is engaged in the study of the former Soviet Union and the history of Marxism. His PhD, completed at the University of Glasgow, offered a historical sociology of the Bolshevik response to antisemitism and pogromist violence during the Russian Revolution (1917-1919). Based on extensive fieldwork in Russian and Ukrainian archives, this work explored the articulation between antisemitism and the revolutionary process and examined the individual and collective forms of agency that were responsible for developing a Bolshevik response to such antisemitism. Brendan is currently preparing this work for book publication. His next project will explore racism and anti-racism in the contemporary Russian Federation.
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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.
Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism
This timely report examines what drives extremism in British society and makes a number of policy recommendations.
Offering new insights from ten leading academics and thinkers, the report suggests that Islamist and far-right extremism are often two sides of the same coin. It highlights that extremism and integration cannot be tackled at a local level alone; nor can they be addressed in isolation from tackling issues of disadvantage and inequality. The report calls for a unified national strategy to build community cohesion and integration, incorporating legal and policy responses, and with a renewed commitment to improving social mobility and racial justice.
David Feldman, Ben Gidley (eds) Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck University of London, May 2014
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