The History of Jewry and Jewish History

In the autumn of 1913, Arnold Zweig, then twenty-seven years old, expressed his own perception of himself and the world in a letter to Martin Buber in these words: »At the moment I'am very theoretical, very essayistic, very Jewish in mood.« In the unexpected sequence here, Zweig articulated an affinity that the participants in this Workshop will seek to explore and fathom in a double way: what »theory« and what »Jewish« mean cannot be understood as a fixed and single constant, but rather as a question that has to be determined in each instance anew, and from case to case also »essayistically«.

That also holds true in a special way when it comes to historicization: Jewish history eludes the paradigm of a national history and can be narrated in various ways: as social, religious, cultural history, history of knowledge, the history of exile, the history of acculturation or the return to a cultural past that is its own. The history of theory also proves to be a matter of questions, since it likewise evinces no solid fixed narrative. Rather, it fluctuates between approaches grounded on the history of ideas, sociology of knowledge or history of concepts, and is by no means encompassed solely by the perimeters of the history of scientific disciplines.

It has often been noted that Jewish authors have played a central role in the history of the Formation of theory, one need but mention Karl Marx, Moritz Lazarus, Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, Karl Mannheim, Ludwik Fleck, Walter Benjamin,Theodor W. Adorno and Hannah Arendt. Over and beyond this fact, the Workshop interrelates the problematic of the history of theory and the complex understanding of the diasporic history of the Jews in modernity, asking how today complex and specific cultural modes of belonging to Judaism and Jewry can be integrated into the historicizing of theory, and how this reflection on such modes of belonging utilizes the language of theory.

Nicolas Berg (Leipzig), Jörg Deventer (Leipzig), Elisabeth Gallas (Leipzig), Jan Gerber (Leipzig), Eva Geulen (Berlin), Raphael Gross (Leipzig), Markus Kirchhoff (Leipzig), Mona Körte (Berlin), Ernst Müller (Berlin), Falko Schmieder (Berlin), Daniel Weidner (Berlin)

10th February 2017
Dubnow Institute

Welcoming: Raphael Gross (Leipzig), Eva Geulen (Berlin)

Introduction and Moderation: Nicolas Berg (Leipzig), Daniel Weidner (Berlin)

This workshop is a collaborative event between the Simon Dubnow Institute and the Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL) Berlin.