PUBLIC LECTURE 

Circumcision: An Index of Difference and/or the Health Exception

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

Speaker: Professor Sander Gilman, Institute of the Liberal Arts, Emory University

Date:                   8 March 2016

Time:                   6.30-8.00pm

Venue: Birkbeck University of London, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7HX. Room B34, Torrington Square main entrance

Free event open to all:  Book your place

Ritual practice defines religion, not least the ancient practice of infant male circumcision undertaken by Jews and others.

Among western societies, the United States is the nation in which infant male circumcision is most widely accepted and practiced. Here 55 per cent of infant male children have their foreskins surgically removed before leaving hospital, but for “health” rather than for “religious” reasons.  In Europe, by contrast, only 10 per cent of boys are circumcised.

In this lecture Professor Gilman asks what happens when religion and medicine compete or are allied; what happens when these two aspects of the public sphere overlap? In what contexts does circumcision occur as a health practice or as a risk?  What are the implications of health-related circumcision for religious practice?

Sander L. Gilman is Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. A distinguished cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of over eighty books, most recently, Illness and Image: Case Studies in the Medical Humanities (Transaction Publishers, 2015); and the edited volume, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam:  Collaboration and Conflict in the Age of Diaspora (Hong Kong University Press, 2014)

This lecture is one of a series taking themes from the Blood exhibition held at the Jewish Museum London (5 November 2015 – 28 February 2016), which was conceived in collaboration with the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism.

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Last of the Unjust
Film screening and discussion

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

Speakers:                 David Feldman, Director, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London; Jacqueline Rose, Professor for Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck, University of London 

Date:                   Sunday 13 March 2016

Time:                   2.00-7.00pm

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

Free event open to all:  Book your place

It took Claude Lanzmann forty years to complete this film of his 1975 dialogues with Benjamin Murmelstein, former leading rabbi of Vienna, one of three Jewish elders, and the only one to survive, who worked under Nazi orders at Theresienstadt during World War II.

Originally the first footage Lanzmann filmed for his epochal Shoah, the dialogues were not included in that film. Like Shoah, The Last of the Unjust raises the most searching ethical and political questions: in this case, about Murmelstein’s role in the Holocaust, the subsequent accusations of his treachery and his exile, and about Lanzmann’s role as film-maker in the reading and preserving of this history.

The complexity of Lanzmann’s role, and the place of his films in contemporary discussions about legacy and continuity in relation to Jewish history, will be the focus of the discussion following the film’s screening, led by Professor Jacqueline Rose and Professor David Feldman.

You are welcome to join us for the whole event or just the discussion, which will begin at 6.00pm.

 

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