Simon Dubnow Institute
for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University

Workshops 2016

22 to 23 November 2016

Contemporary Pasts
On the Nexus between Theory and Experience


»Experience has fallen in value. And it looks as if it is continuing to fall into bottomlessness.« These sentences from Walter Benjamin's Essay Der Erzähler (The Storyteller) published in 1936/1937 express a fundamental diagnosis of early Critical Theory – the disappearance of the ability to experience as a characteristic of modernity – and point to a problematic in the history of ideas that has importance far beyond the ideas of Critical Theory. How is historical experience reflected in theoretical reflection? How is that experience processed in theoretical thinking, how is it pushed out and extended beyond itself, how is it buried or even denied? And under what historical conditions does experience itself become a subject for the formation of theory?


The workshop will explore these questions by means of an exemplary close reading applied to texts from the sphere of Critical Theory, contrasting these with texts that are distant from this current in thought or critically opposed to it. The guideline here is provided by three concepts that refer to the central entities of the mediation of thought and experience: authority, language, and law. Using them as example, the workshop will investigate how the history of experience and the history of ideas are respectively mediated.  


Participants: Christine Achinger (Warwick), Carola Dietze (Gießen), Elke Dubbels (Bonn), Elisabeth Gallas (Leipzig), Alexander Gallus (Chemnitz), Jan Gerber (Leipzig), Raphael Gross (Leipzig), Magnus Klaue (Leipzig), Jan Müller (Basel), Falko Schmieder (Berlin), Alfons Söllner (Chemnitz), Robert Zwarg (Leipzig)



26 to 27 October 2016

Forced Migration and Flight


Central to the workshop is the year 1938 as a crucial point in the history of migration and flight for Central and Eastern European Jews alike. In 1938, Jewish emigration from Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria increased exponentially after the »Anschluss« of Austria in March, the Munich Pact and the occupation of the Sudetenland, the »Juni-Aktion«, as well as the »Polenaktion« in October and finally the »Novemberpogrom«. Likewise, the situation for Jews in Eastern Europe was deteriorating during the 1930s. While migration was a goal for many due to ongoing ethnic discrimination and economic boycott, it was even more difficult for Jews to leave Eastern Europe than it was for German and Austrian emigrants.

The workshop seeks to re-evaluate the dynamics of the events in 1938 by taking a non-teleological perspective and by focusing on the Jewish experience in Central and Eastern Europe as a whole: How is one of its central events, the Évian Conference, to be reappraised in its contemporary context? How did Jewish and non-Jewish emigration patterns change in the course of 1938? Based on which experiences did Central and Eastern European Jews create plans for their uncertain future and how did their actions change in the context of the »catastrophe before the catastrophe«? Considering current debates on mass flight and migration, the workshop will further devote attention to differences and similarities between 1938 and the present migration crisis in Europe.


Participants: Alina Bothe (Berlin), Julie Dawson (New York/Berlin), Jörg Deventer (Leipzig), Debórah Dwork (Worcester, Mass.), Michal Frankl (Prague), Katharina Friedla (Warsaw), Elisabeth Gallas (Leipzig), Raphael Gross (Leipzig), Susanne Heim (München/Berlin), Martin Jost (Leipzig), David Jünger (Berlin), Frank Mecklenburg (New York/Berlin), Nanette Jacomijn Snoep (Leipzig), Ronald B. Sobel (New York/Berlin), Marija Vulesica (Berlin), William H. Weitzer (New York/Berlin) 




19 July 2016

Early Modern Ashkenazi Record Keeping. Pinkassim as Historical Sources


»The Pinkassim Project: Recovering the Records of European Jewry,« in conjunction with Brown University in Providence and the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Cultury at Leipzig University is pleased to announce the workshop »Early Modern Ashkenazi Record Keeping. Pinkassim as Historical Sources.« The Pinkassim Project aims at digitizing and making available the communal records of the Ashkenazi communities of early modern Europe. As part of our work, we want to discuss the historical, textual, and linguistic context of the Pinkassim with interested academics and students at all levels and from various disciplines. Talks will be devoted to language and tradition of the record books as well as to Pinkassim as sources for understanding communal autonomy and identity. The workshop will give valuable insights into Ashkenazi Jewish life in early modern Europe.


Brown University
The Brown Faculty Club
One Magee Street
Providence, RI 02912


Participants: Israel Bartal (Jerusalem), Jay R. Berkovitz (Amherst), Elisheva Carlebach (New York), Jörg Deventer (Leipzig), Gershon D. Hundert (Montreal), Maud S. Mandel (Providence), Adam Teller (Providence). 




11 to 12 January 2016

Reappraising the Anne Frank Diaries
Contexts and Receptions


This workshop is a collaborative event between Göttingen University, the Lichtenberg-Kolleg (Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study) – in der Historischen Sternwarte –, the Fritz Bauer Institute, Frankfurt, and den Simon Dubnow Institute, Leipzig.


Participants: Kora Baumbach (Göttingen), Doerte Bischoff (Hamburg), Martin van Gelderen (Göttingen), Raphael Gross (Leipzig), Tabea Linhard (St. Louis, Miss.), Ralf Palandt (München), Kees Ribbens (Amsterdam), Alan Steinweis (Burlington, Verm.), Daniel Wildmann (London)