The University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands will host an international academic conference dedicated to the study of the Kabbalah on 4-6 July 2007. The conference is organized by its Sub Department History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, in close cooperation with the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel) and the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. Experts from different fields of study at universities in Europe, the USA and the Middle-East will discuss the influence of Kabbalah on vari-ous aspects of 19th and 20th century society and culture.
Relevance of Kabbalah to topical discussions
The study of the Kabbalah is popular like never before. Interest in the subject, especially amongst teenagers and students, was stimulated by statements on the subject by important media figures, such as the singer Madonna. Within the academic world however, the study of Kabbalah is a serious field of study. The subject is studied and taught at universities all over the world. The Sub Department His-tory of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam focuses on the study of Western esoteric currents, amongst which Kabbalah takes an important place.
Kabbalah has played an important role in both European and Middle Eastern society and cul-ture. The history of this current is a prime example of interreligious exchange and the mixing of cul-tures. The study of Kabbalah is therefore relevant to current discussions on the relationship between Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions in Europe, and the understanding of political developments in the Middle East. This is why the Sub Department History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Cur-rents and its partners the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev decided to dedicate an international conference to the theme ‘Kabbalah and Modernity’, which will take place in Amsterdam on 4-6 July 2007. The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam kindly agreed to participate as co-organizer.
The conference ‘Kabbalah and Modernity’ will focus on the influences of kabbalistic traditions on 19th and 20th century culture by addressing six different themes:
- Kabbalah, Modernity, and Scholarship (the development of the academic study of Kabbalah within Jewish Studies since the 19th century);
- New approaches in the study of Kabbalah (current scholarship and methodology of the field of study);
- Kabbalah and politics (the relationship between Kabbalah and expectations of a Messiah, Zi-onism and Jewish nationalism in the 20th century);
- Kabbalah, literature and the arts (the influence of Kabbalah on cultural expressions);
- Romantic and Esoteric Readings of Kabbalah (the influence of Kabbalah - outside the tradi-tional Jewish Studies - on romantic and esoteric currents in philosophy, literature and art since the 19th century);
- Contemporary kabbalistic Schools (the revival and popularity of Kabbalistic movements from the 20th century until the present).
Past, present and controversy
More than 20 speakers from different fields of study at universities in Europe, the USA and the Middle East will present papers on a wide variety of topics. Their presentations will show how kabbalistic concepts have spread and integrated into modern western culture.
The conference aims to take away prejudices about Kabbalah and bring the serious, academic study of the subject to the attention of a wider audience. The organizers aim to contribute to the further development of the field of study and scholarly discourse on the subject, and to stimulate international, cross-disciplinary cooperation between students and scholars.
The full program, a registration form and up-to-date information is available at the conference web-site.
Mrs. Hilda Nobach
Sub Department History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related currents, University of Amsterdam
Phone: +31 (0)20 5253571
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