Antisemitism is an important and a contentious problem. Yet our understanding of it remains under-developed. There are two reasons for this.
First, the study of antisemitism stands in isolation – set apart from contemporary, intellectual currents that encourage new thinking and approaches. It has become divorced from related fields of scholarly inquiry such as Jewish studies and race studies. Similarly, a growing body of work on hostility to Jews by scholars who approach the subject from a broader set of concerns, gender studies or the history of Christianity for example, has made little impression on scholars who specialise in antisemitism. As a result, theoretical and methodological approaches which have invigorated other fields in recent decades have made little impact on the study of antisemitism.
The second reason relates to the politicisation of antisemitism. Too often its study has been shaped and corralled by immediate political concerns. This has not only foreshortened our understanding of antisemitism in the past and present but it has also undermined the specific contribution academics can make to overcome it.
The goal of the Consortium is to reshape and revitalise the study of antisemitism through rigorous, independent inquiry. We are predominantly a group of historians, but in our collective endeavour we will reach out across disciplinary boundaries. In so doing, we aim to encourage scholars to re-evaluate the tools they bring to the study of antisemitism, to question the predominant theoretical and methodological approaches they use, to innovate, and to extend the topics considered a part of the field.
In realising this goal we will promote a contextualised and comparative understanding of antisemitism. A contextualised understanding will seek to uncover the content, meanings, functions and dynamics of antisemitism - as it occurred in the past and recurs in the present. A comparative approach will consider antisemitism over time and place. Importantly, it will also explore the connections between antisemitism and other racisms. Indeed, the relationship of antisemitism to racism both historically and today will be a particular concern for us.
The Consortium will organise:
These will be interdisciplinary in scope, explore the cross-currents of time and place and address topical and theoretical questions and issues. Taking examples from the past to the present day, historical and multidisciplinary perspectives will aid our understanding of contemporary concerns and phenomena.
The Consortium’s first conference, Boycotts - Past and Present was held in London on 19-21 June 2013, hosted by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism. Find Out More »
The Consortium's second conference, Narratives of Violence will be held in Budapest on 16-18 June 2014, hosted by the Jewish Studies Program at Central European University. See the call for papers.
The co-convenors of the Consortium are David Feldman and Scott Ury