CFP: "The Land in Between – Three Centuries of Jewish migration to, from and across Moravia, 1648-1948" (Olomouc, Czech Republic, Nov. 18-20, 2012)
Organized by the Kurt and Ursula Schubert Center for Jewish Studies, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic; and the Jewish Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.
The year 1648 marked a major turning point in the history of Jewish migration. With the end of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and the subsequent outbreak of the Chmielnicky Uprising (1648-1649), the pendulum of Jewish migration began to swing westward, reversing the eastward migratory trend that had been so characteristic since the thirteenth century. Moravia, situated in the heart of Central Europe, became a destination or transit point for Jewish migrants and transmigrants from the East, who often served as cultural agents between East and West. Moravia was also a source of Jewish emigrants, particularly those who wished to escape the oppressive residential, occupational and legal restrictions – especially between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries – by emigrating to Hungary and other neighboring lands. Most of the restrictions were lifted during the “Springtime of the Peoples” in 1848, but the newly-gained freedoms – such as the freedom of movement – also allowed Moravia’s Jews to abandon their small, ancestral communities for bigger cities in Moravia and beyond. Even the influx of Galician refugees before, during and after the First World War did little to replenish Moravia’s dwindling Jewish communities, because these refugees, like Moravia’s native-born Jews, often had their sights set on urban centers in Moravia (e.g. Brno, Moravská Ostrava) or beyond (e.g Vienna), and not on the small country towns that had been home to Moravia’s Jews for centuries. Many of these Jewish communities had already begun to disappear during the First Czechoslovak Republic, long before they were finally exterminated during the Shoah. A few surviving members returned after the Shoah, and some Jews even came from Slovakia or Sub-Carpathia (which had become part of the Soviet Union), but Moravia’s Jewish communities never experienced a real renaissance, in part due to the communist rise to power in 1948, and the subsequent exodus of many of Czechoslovakia’s remaining Jews.
In the current political debate (in Europe), migrants are expected to adapt to ‘majority society’ with little free space to provide for their socio-cultural differences. The proponents of this discourse frequently quote Jewish (migration) history as a test case for successful integration and acculturation. In Jewish history, this model of successful integration has been counterbalanced by a narrative of consecutive exclusion and expulsion by gentile society. In both cases, new concepts of general migration studies, such as disintegration and exclusion, segregation, acquisition and defiance have remained almost entirely unexamined. The complex field of interlocking inclusion and exclusion mechanisms – directed against migrants in general and against specific socially, ethnically and religiously defined groups – has rarely been illuminated. The above outlined history of three hundred years migration to, from and across Moravia provides an excellent opportunity to revise the traditional models and narratives of Jewish migration history and to connect the field with the general discourse.
It also provides an opportunity to examine cultural exchange, an unintended byproduct of migration across the ages. Migrants and transmigrants carried with them a wide range of intellectual, theological, aesthetic and political ideas, some that were readily absorbed by the Jewish communities, others that were summarily rejected. These include approaches to Talmud study, trends in synagogue architecture, messianic movements (Sabbateanism, Frankism), Hasidism, Haskalah, Liberalism, Socialism, Zionism, and Diaspora Nationalism.
This call for papers seeks contributions for a conference to be held in Olomouc on November 18-20, 2012. The main aim of the conference is to discuss and debate recent developments in migration studies, identifying new topics and assessing the role of Moravia within the field.
The questions raised by this conference should include:
1) The social structure of immigrants/emigrants and its change over time (push and pull-factors).
2) How did the autochthonous population (Jewish and non-Jewish, Czechs and Germans) respond to Jewish immigration?
3) How did Jewish organizations cope with the integration of immigrants?
4) What strategies did Jewish émigrés from Moravia develop to carve out their own urban space (Landsmannschaften) in European and American cities?
5) How did immigration and transmigration affect the educational, liturgical, literary, architectural and artistic trends within Moravian Jewry?
6) How did the internal migrations impact inter-communal relations?
7) How did the Familiants Laws (Familiantengesetze) affect the Jewish communities of Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia (where the laws were in place) and Galicia and Hungary (where they were not in place)?
8) To what extent was emigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries a response to the Czech-German conflict?
9) How did Moravia’s traditional Jewish communities deal with their dwindling size and importance?
10) What was the impact of the rise of Communism and the establishment of the State of Israel?
If you are interested in participating, please send a proposal to Lenka Uličná at Moraviaconference2012@gmail.com
Proposals should contain: name, institutional affiliation, title of paper, abstract (250 words), bio, and contact details. Accommodations (2-3 nights) and meals will be covered by the organizers. We can cover travel costs for a limited number of participants.
The deadline for submitting proposals is June 4, 2012.
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