Reassessing The State Of Research:  The Jew As “Other”

Research over the last 50 years has often described the figure of the Jew as the quintessential ‘Other’ in the Middle Ages. However, as recent scholarship has emphasised the peaceful interactions of Jews and Christians in daily life and business, it might be appropriate to assess critically these contrasting directions of research.

When did the term otherness appear in this context, and under which circumstances and for what purpose has it been applied to Jews?

What kind of terminology did Christians and Jews use during the Middle Ages in order to mark their religious, cultural and political differences?

Were medieval terms capable of generating new imaginaries that shaped mentalities for centuries?

Has the time come to re-assess the interplay of text and images in Christian-Jewish, Jewish-Christian, Jewish-Muslim and Muslim-Jewish polemics?

Jewish Perspectives – The Other vis-à-vis the Hegemonic Self

The alienation process between Christians and Jews has been interpreted as 1) the result of a power struggle between medieval ecclesiastic and secular authorities with the goal of shaping a unified Christian society, or 2), as a result of social diversification. However, medieval Jewish perspectives offered two very different views: 1) Christian oppression as a punishment for transgression, and 2) at the same time as wrongdoing which would provoke divine justice against Christian oppressors. It seems that these different perspectives (punishment vs martyrdom) emerged also in context of two different temporalities.

Possible keywords to consider:

  • Exclusiveness and tolerance as possible concepts of fragile cohabitation
  • Otherness vs difference (or différance)
  • Intersectionalities – religion, ethnicity, social status, gender, disabilities
  • Medieval ethnographies?
  • Tropes (Spectral Jew, Hermeneutic Jew, Communities of Violence…)


Dr Eva Frojmovic, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Leeds ( & Prof. Annette Weber, Lehrstuhl für Jüdische Kunst, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg (


Please submit panel/session/roundtable proposals by 30 September 2016 via

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