Pears Institute – Spring 2017 Events

An intimate view of evil? How German Jews made sense of Nazi perpetrators

Holocaust Memorial Day Event – Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism in collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research

Speaker: Professor Mark Roseman, Indiana University Bloomington

Date: Wednesday 1 February 2017

Time: 6.30-8.00pm

Venue: Wolfson Conference Suite, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

After years of focusing on policy and perpetrators, historians of the Holocaust have begun to give victims’ experience more attention. But we have been surprisingly slow to ask how victims viewed the perpetrators. Jews from Germany were in some ways best placed to understand the Nazis – they shared the same language and national background after all, and had anxiously observed them evolve. At the same time, they, more than any other victims, were forced to confront painful questions about how the culture in which they had taken such pride had produced the barbarians who now confronted them. How did they make sense of the “perpetrators from next door”?

Mark Roseman is a historian of modern Europe, with particular interests in the History of the Holocaust and in modern German history. Current research projects include a critical synthesis of recent work on Nazi perpetrators, and a project looking at a life-reform and resistance group in Germany 1920-2000.

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Public Lecture: ‘The Meanings of Antisemitism’

Speaker: Professor David Feldman, Birkbeck, University of London

Date: Monday 13 February 2017
Time: 6.30-8.00pm

Venue: Birkbeck University of London, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7HX. Room B34, Malet Street

Antisemitism has figured in British political debates in the last year as never before. In this lecture, David Feldman examines the changing meanings of antisemitism since the term was first coined. He reveals a new history of the Jews’ struggle for equality from the late-nineteenth century and explains why the politics of antisemitism today generate so much controversy.

David Feldman is Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism and also a Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. He is currently writing an intellectual and political history of the concept of antisemitism in Britain from its introduction in the 1880s to the present.

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Denial – Painful Pasts and Hidden Histories

Film screenings with panel discussion

Date: Sunday, 26 March 2016

Time: All day: two films and discussion. The films will be shown back to back with a break for lunch. You may come for the whole day, to either film screening (morning or afternoon), or join us for the final panel discussion that follows – see below for details

  • 10.45 – 12.25 Film screening: My Nazi Legacy
  • 12.30 – 1.15 Discussion with Philippe Sands
  • 1.15 – 2.15 Lunch
  • 2.15 – 4.00 Film screening: The Flat
  • 4.15 – 5.30 Panel discussion about both films

Venue: Birkbeck, University of London, Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H OPD

Speakers: Professor Stephen Frosh, Birkbeck, University of London, Professor Catherine Hall, University College London, Professor Daniel Pick, Birkbeck, University of London and Professor Philippe Sands QC, University College London.

The Pears Institute explores, through two powerful documentaries, the ways individuals and generations deal with the discovery of uncomfortable family truths – the past actions of parents and grandparents; and the challenge of confronting them.

In the panel discussion, speakers will consider the questions the films raise about memory and legacy within families. How do individuals cope with evil, deceit or betrayal of other family members? Do men react differently from women? Do different generations react differently? How do the actions of past lives colour the lives of those in the present? Should descendants acknowledge or apologise for wrong-doings of others? And how does one think about conscious deception as opposed to unconscious denial and disavowal?

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Public Lecture, ‘The Ghetto of Venice: Past, Present, Future’

Speaker: Professor Shaul Bassi, Ca’Foscari University of Venice

Date: Monday 27 March 2017

Time: 6.30-8.00pm

Venue: Birkbeck University of London, Bloomsbury, London, WC1E 7HX. Room B33, Malet Street (Torrington Square entrance).

The word ghetto was coined in Venice in 1516, it was later applied to other Jewish areas in Italy and Western Europe. By the second half of the twentieth-century ghetto became synonymous with ethnic segregation especially in the United States. This lecture looks at the history of the Ghetto of Venice and discusses the present challenges and future prospects of an iconic Jewish heritage site that has just celebrated 500 years of continuous existence and embodies the predicament of a city threatened increasingly by a “tourist monoculture”.

Shaul Bassi is associate professor of English at Ca’Foscari University of Venice. His research interests include Shakespeare and Jewish studies. He is co-founder and Italian president of Beit Venezia – A Home for Jewish Culture, and he coordinated the Committee for the 500th anniversary of the Ghetto of Venice (1516-2016). His recent publications include Shakespeare in Venice. Exploring the City with Shylock and Othello (with Alberto Toso Fei, Elzeviro 2007, new ed. 2016) and Shakespeare’s Italy and Italy’s Shakespeare. Place, ‘Race’ and Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

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