CFP: [Graduate] New Approaches: Home, Nation and Landedness in Modern Jewish Identity

full name / name of organization: 
Jonathan Gribetz
contact email: 

New Approaches: Home, Nation, and Landedness in Modern Jewish Identity
Date: Sunday, May 11 through Monday, May 12, 2008
Location: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

We are pleased to announce a two-day graduate student conference at
Harvard University and to issue this call for papers.
Throughout the modern period, Jews have related in a variety of ways to
notions of home, nation, and landedness. In a sense, the modern Jewish
experience may be defined as a series of attempts to find a place for
Jews in a newly national world. Historically, these attempts span not
only multiple incarnations of Zionism, but also Diasporist movements such
as Bundism, and linguistic-national movements like Yiddishism. Graduate
students in all academic fields are invited to submit paper proposals on
topics relating to Jews and various forms of Jewish and non-Jewish
nationalism. The selected papers will be presented at a two-day
conference, “New Approaches: Home, Nation, and Landedness in Modern
Jewish Identity.”
Papers might address (but are not limited to) the following questions:
In what ways have modern Jews conceived of home and belonging? What is
the relationship between Jewish language, literature, and nation? In
what ways have Jews imagined the Jewish nation? How do real or imagined
non-Jews fit into conceptions of Jewish nations and nationalisms? What
can be learned from a comparative approach to the study of Jewish
nationalism? To what extent have Jews been included and excluded from
non-Jewish nationalisms? To what degree has the modern experience of the
Jews in the Middle East been shaped by the effects of nationalism on Arab
or Islamic societies? Broadly speaking, what are the ramifications of
nationalism on modern Jewish identity?
While employing these categories of “Jewish” and “non-Jewish”
nationalism, we also aim to push these boundaries. Therefore, the
conference will also focus on methodological questions: What does the
study of “Jewish nationalism” mean in an age of globalization and
multiculturalism? Scholars of the twentieth century passionately debated
the existence of a Jewish nation. The claim that Jews are and have
always been a nation was assumed or defended by some and later challenged
by others, while those who witnessed the Holocaust and the earliest
decades of the State of Israel were moved by those upheavals in Jewish
history to view the preceding era through a lens heavily colored by
them. Current graduate students, in contrast, are part of an
intellectual generation that overwhelmingly takes for granted the
constructed and historically contingent nature of the nation and, in many
cases, views the advent of the State of Israel in a more complicated
Given this new intellectual reality, we must now move beyond the debates
of the previous generation and raise our own questions. Indeed, the need
for “new approaches” is our gathering’s raison d’être. Making the study
of Jews and nationalism relevant in the 21st century requires us to ask
new questions and think in fresh terms. This conference, therefore,
seeks to assemble graduate students from a wide range of disciplinesâ€"from
literature to political science, history to sociologyâ€"who are engaging
the problem of the relationship between Jews and nation in innovative
This conference will feature panel discussions with professors from
various universities and disciplines, and will provide an opportunity to
receive critical feedback on works-in-progress from both colleagues and
faculty members. Select papers will be published in a special volume of
conference proceedings.
Travel subsidies may be available to a limited number of students.
Please send a 300-400 word abstract, your contact information and
university affiliation by October 8 to Please
send inquiries to the same e-mail address, or call 917 514 9276.

Please visit our website for more information:
Organizing Committee:
Jessica Fechtor, PhD candidate, Harvard Univ.
Jonathan Gribetz, PhD candidate, Columbia Univ.

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Received on Wed Sep 19 2007 - 20:45:25 EDT