Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

The Bolshevik Response to Antisemitism in the Russian Revolution

Speaker: Dr Brendan McGeever, Pears Institute Research Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London

Date: 2 February 2016

Time: 1.00-2.00pm

Venue:  Dreyfus Room, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ

Free seminar for scholars. Limited places: book here

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was the high point of class struggle in the twentieth century. In the very moment of revolution, however, the Bolsheviks were forced to confront mass outbreaks of antisemitic violence as pogroms raged across the Western and South-Western borderlands. The pogroms posed fundamental questions for Marxist theory and practice, particularly since they revealed the nature and extent of working-class and peasant attachments to antisemitic representations of Jewishness.

Based on extensive fieldwork in Russian and Ukrainian archives, this paper has two aims: first, it offers a broad analysis of the nature of the articulation between antisemitism and the revolutionary process, focusing in particular on the phenomenon of Red Army pogroms; and second, it offers an analysis of Bolshevik attempts to arrest these articulations. The paper argues that the key agent in the Soviet response to antisemitism was not the Bolshevik party leadership, as is often assumed, but a small grouping of non-Bolshevik Jewish socialists who coalesced around the peripheral apparatuses of the Soviet state.

Pears Institute lunchtime seminars provide an opportunity to hear and discuss new work in progress from an invited speaker in an informal setting. We cannot provide lunch but you are welcome to bring your own.

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Ida
Film screening and discussion

Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London

Speakers:                 Dr François Guesnet, University College London and Dr Małgorzata Pakier, POLIN, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw

 Date:                    Sunday 7 February 2016

Time:                   3.00-5.45pm

Venue: Birkbeck University of London, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7HX. Room B36, Torrington Square main entrance

Free event open to all:  Book your place

This award-winning film is a moving and intimate drama about a young novice nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers from her only living relative that she is Jewish. So begins a quest to discover who she really is and where she belongs. The intersection of Ida’s personal story and momentous historic events makes this a powerful and affecting film which explores the place of the Holocaust, memory and forgetting in postwar communist Poland.

The film will be followed by a round-table discussion between Dr François Guesnet, University College London and Dr Małgorzata Pakier, POLIN, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw

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Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

A Second Emancipation? “Philosemitism” and the Jewish Condition in Postwar  Europe

Speaker: Professor Daniel Cohen, Rice University, Texas

Date: 1 March 2016

Time: 1.00-2.00pm

Venue:  Dreyfus Room, 26 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ

Free seminar for scholars. Limited places: book here

What is “philosemitism” and what role did it play in Western Europe from the end of World War Two to 1989, and in the European Union since its inception?

“Philosemitism” is a concept fraught with ambiguities and often dangerously close to antisemitic discourse. Yet new theological, political and cultural attitudes towards Jewishness in the aftermath of the Holocaust have marked a radical departure from the pre-war past. Understood in this way, “philosemitism” is a central feature of postwar European history. Despite the persistence and recent intensification of antisemitism, Jewishness moved closer to the mainstream of European life. The “Jewish Century”, to follow Yuri Slezkin’s apt formulation, is not merely a triangular story of Zionist, Soviet Communist or American trajectories: postwar Europe is a no less important site of Jewish normalization.

Pears Institute lunchtime seminars provide an opportunity to hear and discuss new work in progress from an invited speaker in an informal setting. We cannot provide lunch but you are welcome to bring your own.