Between the East End and East Africa: "The Jew" in Edwardian Culture
A two-day colloquium organised by the AHRB Parkes Centre for the Study of Jewish/ non-Jewish Relations, University of Southampton in association with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
28 - 29 July 2003, University of Southampton, UK
August 2003 marks the centenary of the “Uganda Plan”, in which the British government proposed to the Zionists the establishment of “a Jewish colony of settlement” in the East Africa Protectorate “on conditions which will enable members to observe their national customs.” While the British proposal undoubtedly stemmed from a genuine concern for the persecuted Jews in Russia, it also reflected the fantasy of diverting the flow of Jewish immigrants who were making their way to London's East End. Indeed, it is hardly surprising that the proposal coincided with the work of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration, which recommended in its Report of August 1903 to place stringent restrictions on the Jewish immigration to Britain. The Jew, in other words, was sufficiently white to colonize the Empire for King and country, though not white enough to settle in the metropolitan centre itself.
As Bryan Cheyette has persuasively shown, ambivalent representations of "the Jew" lie at the heart of modernity. Even so, the years from the Boer War (1899-1902) to the introduction of the Aliens Act (1905) stand out in British history as a turbulent period exceptional for its contradictory imaginings of the Jew: white and yet black; infinitely wealthy and yet infinitely poor; refusing to assimilate and yet assuming a false English identity; "alien" and yet almost overly familiar.
Shifting between these two emblematic sites, the East End and East Africa, this conference seeks to highlight the range of myths, inconsistencies and contradictions that characterise the representation of the Jew in all aspects of Edwardian culture, high and low. The organisers are particularly interested in interdisciplinary papers that explore the cross-exchanges between Jewishness and Englishness, between metropole and Empire, and between Zionism and colonialism.
Possible themes could include:
"Degeneration", race science and the Jewish/ English body
The Boer War and "the Jew"
Zionism in England
East End life and Jewish ethnography
The fourth Zionist Congress in London, 1900
Imagined Metropolitan/ imperial geographies
The imperial and colonial novel, and travel literatures
The Royal Commission on Alien Immigration and the making of the Aliens Act
The Uganda Proposal
The British Brothers League
The Dreyfus Affair and its aftermath
Antisemitism/ Allosemitism/ Philosemitism
Israel Zangwill and the ITO
The popular press
Please send abstracts in English, of no more than 250 words, to Nadia Valman and Eitan Bar-Yosef, via email, by January 28, 2003. The language of the conference will be English.
University of Southampton
Southampton S017 1BJ
Phone: (44) 023 80593841
Department of Foreign Literatures & Linguistics
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Phone: (972) 08-6461063
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