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Colonial History – Sephardic Perspectives (16-19th Centuries)

Foto: Laura Arnold Leibman

International Conference at the Institute for Jewish and Religious Studies at the University of Potsdam

Date: October 27-October 29, 2015, Convener: Prof. Dr. Sina Rauschenbach (University of Potsdam)
Over the last decades, new approaches to colonial history have remarkably enriched our understanding of entanglements between early modern European and non-European worlds. Power relationships have been reconsidered from a variety of different perspectives. Multidirectional approaches have been introduced into the analysis of transfers of cultures and knowledge. Binary
categories such as colonizers and colonized, white and black, civilized and primitive, have been put into question and been supplanted by more sophisticated and less clear-cut patterns. Scholars of Jewish history have responded quickly, contributing and proposing new fields of research with regard to Jews and conversos in colonial societies, Jewish history and Atlantic history as well as “forgotten Diasporas” (Mark, da Silva Horta, The Forgotten Diaspora, Cambridge 2013 [2011]) such as Africa and Asia. However, the study of early modern Judaism outside Europe is still in its infancy, and few books touch upon the experiences, cultures, and thoughts of Jewish merchants, settlers, smugglers or indentured workers in and between different European colonies and countries. The conference “Colonial History – Sephardic Perspectives”, to be held at the University of Potsdam in October 2015, is aimed at contributing to a nascent field of research while fostering Sephardic Studies in German Universities.

Foto: Laura Arnold Leibman
Foto: Laura Arnold Liebman

Participants are invited to present papers dealing with the intersection between early modern colonial and Sephardic history, and to help open fresh perspectives from whence new interests and discussions might arise. Especially welcome are papers that combine case studies with broader methodological approaches or conceptual reflections about the usefulness and/or
limitations of key postcolonial concepts (such as hybridity, third space, creolization, blackening, whitening, writing back etc.) in the field of Jewish Studies. With regard to postcolonial theory, we encourage participants not to restrict the term “postcolonial” to the post-independence era of the colonies in question, but rather to use it in a broader sense, applying it to any experience and culture “affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day.“ (Ashcroft, Griffiths, Tiffin [eds.], The Empire Writes Back, New York 2002 [1989], 2). Due to the importance of conversos and Sephardim in early modern colonial contexts, the conference will put particular focus on “Sephardic perspectives”, which is to be read as either “perspectives of Sephardim” or “perspectives on Sephardim.” However, it is preferable that participants do not view Sephardic histories and cultures as isolated phenomena, but that they place their discussions in more general contexts of Jewish (and hence also Ashkenazic) and non-Jewish experiences.

Den Flyer zur Tagung finden Sie hier.

Foto: Laura Arnold Liebman