Jewish Los Angeles (PAMLA Panel) - Nov. 11-13, 2022

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Jana Schmidt / German Historical Institute DC
contact email: 

Jewish Los Angeles "Jewish Literature and Culture" panel at the Pacific Modern Languages AssociationNovember 11-13, 2022 From Boyle Heights to Hollywood, and from Santa Monica to the Valley, Los Angeles has been a site for fantastic projections, colonial encounters, and organized struggles for Jews “moving West” since the late 19th century. This panel explores how L.A. as the other “promised land” is figured in the writings, films, artworks, and music of Jewish Californians and immigrants.  From its settlement as a supposedly empty “virgin territory” to its more recent description as a city that has no memory of itself, Los Angeles is often stylized as a place without identity, history, or borders (Baudrillard, Mike Davis, Thom Andersen, Vanessa Place). The concrete stories of its population and development by different groups with divergent interests complicate this narrative. Such stories expose that narratives around LA’s indeterminacy can themselves participate in the hollowing out they condemn. As a case in point, this panel seeks to highlight the agency of American Jews and Jewish immigrants in shaping the city. Projects like “Mapping Jewish Los Angeles” at UCLA and research on the activism of Jewish organizations fighting the American Nazi Party in the 1940s has recently drawn scholarly attention to the life and history of Jews in Los Angeles, specifically with an eye to contested geographies. The panel will bring together critics from a variety of disciplines to ask how the peculiarities of space, politics, and image of Los Angeles impacted Jewish identity formation, political strategies, and cultural expressions.  Proposals may focus on topics such as: - histories of settlement- Latinx-Jewish encounters- labor rights struggles and multiethnic coalition building- the Klan’s activities in California and Jewish resistance to white supremacist and Nazi networks- neighborhoods and buried histories, f.e. Boyle Heights- Yiddish and Ladino language communities in L.A.- Sephardic immigration- Jewish-German intellectuals and the (alleged) anti-intellectualism of the West Coast- the Persian Jewish diaspora- redlining, housing discrimination, real estate and antisemitism- Jews in the film industry, the Red Scare- L.A. Jews and the Civil Rights Movement- the L.A. riots and racial dynamics since the 1990s- L.A. as abstraction and circulation in critical theory: a “network of incessant, unreal circulation” (Baudrillard)- The L.A. novel: ideas of sprawl/ illegibility/ abstraction versus different imaginaries of L.A. We explicitly encourage non-traditional papers and presentations including, but not limited to, poetry, fragment, and performance. The panel will meet at the 2022 PAMLA conference, to be held in person in Los Angeles, California at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center and Hotel, Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13, 2022. For the conference theme and to submit your abstract, please visit For questions and inquiries, please contact Jana Schmidt, Research Fellow, German Historical Institute, Washington DC.