Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism : Birkbeck University of London
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Selected publications by Pears Institute staff and Associates.

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Our Migration Story: The Making of Britain

This website presents the stories of generations of migrants who came to and shaped the British Isles over more than a thousand years.

Drawing on the research of over 60 historians, the stories of migrants, including Anglo-Saxon, African, Irish, Indian, Italian, Jewish and Polish peoples, are told through a diverse range of historical source material. This includes images, newspaper clippings, Parliamentary reports, videos, poems, extracts from novels, and quotations, arranged into four time periods beginning in 43AD and continuing to the present day. David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute, talks about immigration to Britain between 1750-1900.

The website is intended for teachers and students studying migration to Britain. However, it is a useful resource for anyone interested in Britain’s migration history.  

Our Migration Story: The Making of Britain. An Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded collaboration between the Runnymede Trust and academics based at the universities of Cambridge and Manchester.

Launched September 2016.

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Blood – reflections on what unites and divides us

Blood is something that all humans share: a vital force that courses through our veins – the giver of life. This book gathers together specially commissioned essays from leading scholars which reflect on the religious, historical, and medical dimensions of blood.

The themes covered include: blood in Christian and Jewish culture, medieval antisemitism, Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, Jewish ritual, blood and 'race'.

Blood – reflections on what unites and divides us has been produced by the Pears Institute to accompany the exhibition Blood, conceived in collaboration with the Jewish Museum London (November 2015 – February 2016).

Anthony Bale and David Feldman (eds), Blood - reflections on what unites and divides us, Shire Publications, November 2015

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Revisiting Holocaust

Revisiting Holocaust Representation in the Post-Witness Era

This collection of essays shifts focus from discussions on the ethics and limits of representation to the relevance of imagination in Holocaust commemoration. It re-examines ethical, aesthetic and political dilemmas arising from the crucial transfer of memory from the realm of 'living memory' contained by the survivors and their families, to culturally and politically mediated memory practices realised by post-witness generations.

Diana Popescu, Tanja Schult (eds) Revisiting Holocaust Representation in the Post-Witness Era, Palgrave Macmillan, July 2015

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KL. A history of the Nazi Concentration Camps

In this first complete history of the Nazi concentration camps, Nikolaus Wachsmann combines the political and personal in an examination of this immense genocidal machine, whilst drawing a vivid picture of life inside the camps for the individual prisoner.

Nikolaus Wachsmann, KL. A History of the Concentration Camps, Little, Brown, April 2015

Read a review by Sir Richard Evans, Wolfson College, Cambridge and Gresham College, London in The New York Review of Books

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Sub Report

Sub-Report on Antisemitism for the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism

Commissioned to assist the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, and used to inform their deliberations and report to government, this Sub-Report examines the key aspects of antisemitism in Britain during the period following the 2014 Gaza conflict.

David Feldman, Sub Report on Antisemitism for the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, January 2015 

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Antisemitism in Dangerous Times

The summer of 2014 will be remembered by many for the conflict between Israel and Gaza brought so vividly into our homes through daily news reporting. Its repercussions were also felt in Britain in another way, marked by a dramatic increase in recorded antisemitic incidents. In this short opinion piece, David Feldman reflects on the condemnation of Israel in Britain at tis time and asks how should British Jewry respond?

David Feldman, 'Antisemitism in Dangerous Times', in 'After Gaza' special section, Jewish Quarterly autumn/winter, 2014

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Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism in Britain

In Britain, as in many other countries, debate over the state of Israel, its existence and policies, commonly lead to charges of antisemitism directed at some of Israel’s critics. In this short paper David Feldman considers not only the accusations of antisemitism, but also the ways in which they have been denied. Taking the dispute as it arises among academics and public intellectuals he also explores how antisemitism is defined and understood in these debates and what is at stake when people disagree over the role played by antisemitism in discourse on Israel.

Based on a lecture given at the conference ‘Antisemitism in Europe Today: the Phenomena, the Conflicts’ November 2013, organized by the Jewish Museum Berlin, Center for Research on Antisemitism, Technical University Berlin, and the Foundation ‘Remembrance, Responsibility and Future’.

David Feldman, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism in Britain, published on-line in English and German by Jewish Museum Berlin, November 2014 Also published in German in Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung - Center for Research on Antisemitism Yearbook, Technical University Berlin, December 2014

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Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism

This timely report offers new insights from ten leading academics and thinkers on what drives extremism in British society and makes a series of policy recommendations.

The report explores: the disadvantages experienced by Britain’s white working class; Muslim and ethnic minority populations; the drivers of far-right and Islamist extremism; and the appeal of antisemitism to far-right and Islamist extremists. The report 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.

The report was produced by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London in partnership with COMPAS, University of Oxford for all the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

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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The Economic and Social Research Council has produced a document summarising the report's main findings.

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Another Darkness, Another Dawn: A History of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are some of the most marginalized and vilified people in society. They are rarely seen as having a place in a country, either geographically or socially, no matter where they live or what they do. Another Darkness, Another Dawn is a new history that charts their movement through time and place: from their roots in the Indian subcontinent to their place in the contemporary world.

This history of Romani people demonstrates how their experiences provide a way to understand mainstream society's relationship with outsiders and immigrants, both in the past and present. Understanding their history is to take in the founding and contraction of empires, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, wars, the expansion of law and order and of states, the Enlightenment, nationalism, modernity and the Holocaust. It is as much a history of ourselves as it is a history of 'others'.

Ultimately Becky Taylor demonstrates that history is not always about progress: the place of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers remains as contested and uncertain today as it was upon their arrival in western Europe in the fifteenth century.

Becky Taylor, Another Darkness, Another Dawn: A History of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, Reaktion Books, February 2014

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Conceiving Difference: Religion, Race and the Jews in Britain, c.1750-1900

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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Jews and Jewishness in British Children’s Literature

In a period of ongoing debate about faith, identity, migration and culture, this timely study explores the often politicized construction of one of Britain’s longest standing minority communities. Representations in children’s literature, influenced by the Enlightenment, the Empire, the Holocaust and 9/11, reveal an ongoing concern with establishing, maintaining or problematizing the boundaries between Jews and Gentiles.

Drawing on over one hundred texts, from children’s picture books to young adult fiction and from realism to fantasy, Madelyn Travis argues that the position of Jews in Britain has been and remains ambivalent, despite the dramatic socio-cultural changes that have taken place over two centuries.

Madelyn J Travis, Jews and Jewishness in British Children’s Literature, Routledge, March 2013

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The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind

A history of the encounter between psychology and fascism, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind draws on neglected archive sources in Britain and the US, as well as literature, film, legal testimony, letters and memoirs, to document the rise and fall of psychoanalytic and psychiatric explanations of the Third Reich, the psychoanalytic interrogation of Rudolf Hess and the Allies’ broader attempts to understand the Nazi high command and mentality of the German public.

Daniel Pick shows how deeply post-war Western understandings of how minds work and groups operate were influenced by these wartime attempts to interpret the psychopathology of Nazism.

Daniel Pick, The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind, Oxford University Press, June 2012

Hear Daniel speaking about The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind

Visit the web archive

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Conservative Pluralism and the Politics of Multiculturalism

In this essay David Feldman considers how the multicultural politics of Britain over the last two decades have striking and revealing antecedents in British history. This he suggests can be seen by looking at three areas in particular: the multinational character of the United Kingdom itself; the practice of British rule in the Empire; and the response, from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, to religious pluralism at home. By examining the strategies and practices employed by the British state as it governed diverse societies in the past, Feldman proposes, we will gain some insights into the dynamics and forms of multiculturalism today.

David Feldman, ‘Conservative Pluralism and the Politics of Multiculturalism’ in Nira Yuval-Davis and Philip Marfleet, eds, Secularism, Racism and the Politics of Belonging, Runnymede Trust, April 2012, pp10-12

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Jews in the East End, Jews in the Polity, ‘The Jew’ in the Text

This essay by the Institute’s Director, David Feldman, considers the relationship of liberalism and the Jewish East End of London in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The idea that liberalism was intolerant of the Jews’ difference is an idea proposed in much recent writing by both historians and literary scholars. David Feldman subjects this idea to critical examination, considering the integration of Jews within practices of poor relief and education as well as the representation of Jews in the writing of social investigators such as Beatrice Potter.

David Feldman, ‘Jews in the East End, Jews in the Polity, ‘The Jew’ in the Text’, in 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, ‘Revisiting the Victorian East End’, No 13, 2011

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Structures and Transformations in Modern British History

This major collection of essays edited by the Institute’s Director, David Feldman and Jon Lawrence, challenges many of our preconceptions about British political and social history from the late eighteenth century to the present. David Feldman considers, 'Why the English like turbans: a history of multiculturalism in one country' and in the introductory essay with Jon Lawrence situates Stedman Jones's work within the broader historiographical trends of the past thirty years, drawing important conclusions about new directions for scholarship in the twenty-first century. 

David Feldman and Jon Lawrence (eds), Structures and Transformations in British History, Cambridge University Press, January 2011 

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