The Johns Hopkins Lavy Colloquium on "Nationhood and the Jews" will bring together specialists in modern Jewish studies and scholars in other fields of history, sociology, literature, and social theory to investigate Jewish encounters with the nation as idea and institution and to reflect on how the Jewish case(s) might further the human sciences' larger inquiry into the nature and workings of nationhood in modernity. The two-day colloquium will take place Nov. 6-7, 2008 at the Smokler Center, 3109 N. Charles St. Baltimore, MD 21218. It is open to the public.
Program and detailed description:
Thursday, Nov. 6:
10-12: Emancipation, the Nation, and the Jewish Question:
David Bell (The Johns Hopkins University): Jews and Nationalism in France
Liliane Weissberg (University of Pennsylvania): Metropolis of Freedom: Berlin Jews in Paris, 1789-1812
Christine Holbo (Arizona State University): On Reading Heine in Ohio: Incomplete Emancipation and the Project of American Realism
1-3: Religion, Violence, and the Nation/s:
David Assaf (Tel-Aviv University): When the Rebbe Met the Tsar: Hasidic Leaders Struggling with the Authorities
Roger Friedland (University of California, Santa Barbara): The Institution of Religious Violence and the Erotics of Sovereignty
Oded Schechter (University of Chicago): Rabbi Yoel Teitelboim: Is Jewish Secularism equal to Nationalism? An Analysis of the Aporia of Babel.
3:30-5:30: The Cultural Imagination of Jewish Nationalism:
Israel Bartal (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Der yidisher kozak/The Jewish Cossack
Neta Stahl (The Johns Hopkins University): The Zionist Jesus
Yael Zerubavel (Rutgers University): Nationalism and the Search for Appropriate Roots: The Israeli Case
Friday, Nov. 7:
9:30-11:30: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Jewish Self-Fashioning:
Mary Gluck (Brown University): Jewish Self-Fashioning through Popular Culture in Fin-de-Siecle Budapest
Kenneth B. Moss (The Johns Hopkins University): Be a Polish Jew in the Mountains and a Third Sex at Home: Conceiving Jewish Society and Self-Cultivation in Nationalist Eastern Europe
Svetlana Boym (Harvard University): A Half-Jew and a Role-Player: Modernist Humanism, Rootless Cosmopolitanism, and Civic Conscience
12:30-2:30: Savageness, Strangeness, and Dislocation:
Scott Spector (University of Michigan): Savage Nation: Expertise, Rumor, and the Revival of the Blood Libel in the Late Habsburg Empire
Eric Oberle (Washington University in St. Louis): Universalizing Georg Simmel’s ‘Stranger’: The Philosophy of Money' as a Model of Social Modernity
Marc Caplan (The Johns Hopkins University): Between Self and Other: Displacement, Dislocation, and Deferral in Dovid Bergelson’s Mides ha-din and Alfred Döblin’s Reise in Polen
2:45-3:45: Concluding Discussion
Recent scholarship across the human sciences has drawn attention to the ways in which, over the course of the nineteenth century, the concept of the nation moved beyond the realm of political and cultural ideology to become a way of seeing and acting potentially applicable in every realm of modern life. Some scholars have shifted their focus from nationalist movements and discourses to the ways in which nationhood came to be a taken-for-granted element of contemporaries’ conceptual armature and an institutional fact inscribed in an ever growing range of sites and practices. Others have sought to chart the limits of this process and uncover forms of “resistance” to it. As often as not, however, this very effort serves to highlight the power of nationhood in even the most local, intimate, and hermetic domains of modern culture.
The 4th annual Lavy Colloquium at the Johns Hopkins University aims to bring together scholars of history, sociology, literature, religion, and social theory to think about these questions in relation to the modern Jewish encounter with the nation. We believe that such a conference comes at the right moment both for Jewish studies and the larger scholarly field. Much recent work in modern Jewish studies has sought to move beyond a long-dominant nationalism-centered narrative. Yet this turn – expressed in studies on topics ranging from Jewish religious traditionalism to imperial identities to authorship in metropolitan languages – threatens to obscure the decisive question of how the nation as an institutional fact shaped Jewish experience, strategy, and commitments in all spheres, even in the form of refusal.
At the same time, the Jewish case is especially valuable for thinking about the institution of the nation in modernity more generally. Although Jews bore a narrative of “chosenness” which might seem the ur-text of nationalism itself, the emergence of a Jewish nationalist movement came very late by European standards. Both Jewish integrationism and Jewish nationalism were paralleled by an astonishing mobilization of Jewish religious traditionalism which hewed a paradox-ridden relationship to both “modern” ideologies. The Jewish encounter with the nation shaped radically opposed agendas of integrationism and Jewish nationalism, statism and diasporism, traditionalism and anti-traditionalism – yet the convergent fates of 20th century Jews compelled recurrent dialogue among these agendas. Perhaps stymied by this very complexity, however, the larger rethinking of nationhood has attended to the Jewish case(s) only fitfully.
Dept. of History
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