The Stuff of Jews: Political Economy and Jewish Material Culture, 1945 – Present : Appel à contribution

Nous soumettons à votre connaissance ci-dessous l’appel à contribution lancé dans le cadre de l’organisation du workshopThe Stuff of Jews: Political Economy and Jewish Material Culture, 1945 – Presentqui se tiendra du 24 au 26 mars 2015 au Centre de recherche sur l’antisémitisme à l’Université Technique de Berlin. Ce workshop cherche à réunir des personnes travaillant sur les questions de restitutions et de compensations aux Juifs en Europe après 1945, ainsi que sur les relations entre les différents acteurs – juifs et non juifs – concernés par ces questions, et les rôles joués par les communautés, les Etats ou les organisations internationales.

Les candidatures (pour une intervention en anglais de 20 minutes) sont à envoyer avant le 15 décembre 2014 (résumé de 250 mots maximum).

The Stuff of Jews: Political Economy and Jewish Material Culture, 1945 – Present

Questions arose after 1945, and have persisted since, about the ownership of properties which had belonged to European Jewish communities before the war, to individuals murdered in the Holocaust, and even to some survivors. This included thousands of Jewish cemeteries in various states of repair and former synagogues, many of which already repurposed. Studies of these “Jewish” properties often examine their symbolic or nostalgic value, their place in active cultures of memory and identity construction. These properties, however, have always had worth as material assets as well, just as they have always imparted financial liabilities and other responsibilities to their owners. These factors, often determined by national contexts and cultures, conditioned the types of claims that various, competing actors made to “Jewish” properties, the outcomes of their conflicts, and even how owners and would-be owners understood their relationship and responsibilities to their properties. Local, national, and transnational political economies thus influenced the articulation and reception of the moral, political, and philosophical claims to the material legacy of European Jewry. A comparative study of these political economies offers an opportunity to re-explore larger themes in European Jewish history.

Papers may consider how economies of “Jewish” property have influenced Jewish-state relations in Europe and the relationships between Jews and non-Jewish majorities. They may explore attempts to resolve the ownership of “Jewish” properties in regions where communities no longer exist (and where some do), as well as the related question of who should be responsible for maintaining them. What happens, for example, when Jewish communities cannot afford to maintain properties or when other considerations take priority? When does the state or another entity take ownership of “Jewish” property and how does the process fit into the larger frameworks for the economic organization of society? What about claims by international actors (e.g. the State of Israel, the Claims Conference, expatriated Jews, and religious groups) to properties in Europe and their demands that communities and governments treat them in specific ways? The histories of these interventions reflect shifts in transnational political cultures and economics. To that end, we seek a collection of papers which will together highlight differences, similarities, and interdependencies across Cold-War divides and within Cold-War camps, as well as factors that have distinguished individual states after 1989. Papers may also consider the concept of “Jewish” property, as it has been understood and challenged in Europe, or the status and maintenance of sites of Holocaust atrocities as “Jewish” properties. We invite papers on other forms of property as well, such as ritual and personal items.

We are soliciting applications to participate in an international workshop to be held at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University in Berlin on March 24 – 26, 2015. Eight scholars will present papers of twenty minutes each (in English) and also respond to each other’s work. Please submit abstracts of no longer than 250 words to by 15 December 2014. We will notify accepted applicants by 15 January 2015. Some funding for travel and accommodations will be provided. We will seek to publish either all or some of the workshop papers. We will keep participants apprised as we finalize our publication plans.

“The Stuff of Jews” seeks to assemble a diverse collection of scholars representing multiple cultural and ethnic backgrounds, countries of birth and origin, genders, sexualities, and academic disciplines. The workshop is open to scholars of all ranks, including advanced graduate students (ABD).

“The Stuff of Jews” is made possible by a grant from the Volkswagen Foundation and support from the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University in Berlin.

Please address all questions to Jacob Ari Labendz at


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