Enlightenment is based on the assumption of universal reason. Put into practice however, many historical examples give proof of the violation of claims made by individuals as well as collectives: Societal exclusion along such categories as religion, gender, race, ethnicity, and class seems to correlate with the practice of enlightenment. The colloquium aims at understanding the relation between majority and minorities (or “minorized” groups) in order to find out if and how collective agents make use of enlightenment – its rhetoric, programmatic approach, and practice – to legitimize or redefine existing power structures. The Jewish Enlightenment stands out as a prime example of such a revision. As an enlightenment of a minority it did not only tackle communal challenges but questioned society as a whole. Against the backdrop of these issues, the interdisciplinary colloquium invites participants to discuss the following and further questions: What are the characteristics of the Jewish Enlightenment and other minority movements of the 18th century until today? How does enlightenment foster both social inclusion and exclusion? How are identities being constructed?
We invite both theoretical and empirical contributions from scholars across the humanities and social sciences that address enlightenment as a historical and/or systematic phenomenon. Presentations are limited to 30 minutes and can be held in German or English. Please submit your proposal (ca. 500–700 words) and curriculum vitae in a single email to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 14, 2011. The organizers also intend to publish a volume of select colloquium papers. Keynote speakers will be announced soon.
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