Call for papers, Workshop: “Globalising French Jewish Politics”

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 2-3 July 2019

This workshop revisits the history of French Jewish activism internationally from its origins in the nineteenth century until today. French Jewish internationalism has often been studied through the lens of a single organisation or in isolation from the broader European and international contexts, although it has historically been well integrated into transnational, trans-imperial, and global networks. The impact of such international ties and endeavours on metropolitan French Jewish politics deserves further attention. This workshop examines the history of French Jewish internationalism within the broader contexts of diaspora politics, Jewish and non-Jewish diplomacy and transnational mobility in order to investigate the transformation and legacy of political practices in the longue durée.By bringing together scholars working on transnational and comparative perspectives, we hope to complicate notions of Frenchness and French Jewish identity, as well as challenge French Jewish self-perceptions often inscribed in the archives we use and reproduced in traditional historiography.

We welcome papers on civil society organisations active beyond the borders of France – both Jewish ones as well as those that played an essential role in the history of French Jewish activism – and engaged in the whole gamut of international activities (humanitarian relief efforts, philanthropic and cultural endeavours, campaigns regarding the legal status of Jews abroad, antisemitism, immigration, etc.). Contributions discussing relations between international French/French-Jewish organisations with local Jewries are particularly welcome. Papers can also focus on famous or less prominent individuals – both men and women – that were active in international movements.

Contributions are encouraged to discuss topics such as:

  • The place of French Jewish activism within diaspora politics and French diplomacy;
  • Dynamics of cooperation, competition, and reciprocal influence between French Jewish activists and their peers abroad;
  • The impact of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe and North Africa on the metropolitan French Jewish agenda and priorities;
  • Circulation of people, practices, and ideas between Jewish activism in France and French Jewish activism abroad;
  • The relationship between colonialism and Jewish internationalism in the French colonial project, and the transformation of this relation during decolonisation and the postcolonial period;
  • How French internationalism, and in particular republican universalism, informed the relationship between human rights and Jewish rights;
  • The relationship between French Jewish international diplomacy and the Zionist movement;
  • The interplay between internationalism and antisemitism: antisemitic myths about Jewish internationalism and French Jewry, as well as the impact of antisemitism on the strategies of French Jewish activism;
  • The liminal case of Alsatian Jews in French and German Jewish internationalism;
  • French Jewish reaction and answers to marginalisation on the international scene, as well as, more broadly, the limits to the scope and impact of French Jewish activism.

This two-day workshop is organised by Dr Noëmie Duhaut (Central European University, Budapest/Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz) and Dr Nina Valbousquet (Fordham University/New York Public Library) and hosted by the Jewish Studies Program at the Central European University.

Please send a paper abstract (300 words) and brief CV to by March 15, 2019. PhD candidates are encouraged to apply.Limited funding may be available to defray travel and accommodation expenses. Speakers who require support to cover their expenses should mention it in their proposal.

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