Migration hysteria: the deep historical roots of ‘replacement theory’ 

Public lecture

Date: 12 October 2023

Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Location: Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL

Speaker: Leo Lucassen, International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam and Leiden University

Booking: Free event – book your place

Refugees in Britain and elsewhere today evoke fearful and harsh responses from governments and broad sections of the population. In this lecture, Professor Lucassen argues that this fierce antipathy has deep roots in nineteenth and early twentieth century racial thought in the Atlantic world. These ideas, he argues, have resurfaced in the twenty-first century in the form of ‘replacement theory’: namely, the notion that the white population in Europe and the United States is being supplanted by non-white populations. This process, claim advocates of the theory, is the outcome of a deliberate policy on the part of elites. In some versions these elites are characterised and attacked as Jewish and ‘replacement theory’ takes an antisemitic form. Far from being a new phenomenon, Leo Lucassen argues, ‘replacement theory’ amounts to an old set of ideas in a new package.

Leo Lucassen is Director of the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam and Professor of Global Labour and Migration History at Leiden University. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and has published widely on the longue durée of global migrations, the history of antisemitism and racism, social engineering and urban history. His latest book (2021, with Jan Lucassen) is a migration history of Amsterdam since the late sixteenth century.

Contemporary Jewish identities and experiences of racism: what can we learn from ‘big data’?

Public lecture

Date: 21 November 2023

Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Location: Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL

Speaker: Nissa Finney, University of St Andrews 

Booking: Free event – book your place

In a world awash with information how do we untangle what Jewish identity means today, how do data capture Jewishness, and what can ‘big data’ tell us about Jewish experiences of racial and religious discrimination?

In this lecture Nissa Finney considers how Jewish people articulate their Jewish identity and how well this sense of Jewishness is captured by statistical categorisations used as standard in Britain. She then compares discrimination experienced by Jewish people to other religious and ethnic groups, opening discussion about what might (or might not) be distinctive about contemporary Jewish experiences of racism.

The presentation draws on a new, exciting national social survey – the Evidence for Equality National Survey  (EVENS) – published this year by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). EVENS documents the experiences of over 14,000 people and provides unrivalled data on the lives of ethnic and religious minorities in Britain.

Nissa Finney is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of St Andrews and member of the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity and the Centre for Population Change. Her research focuses on race, place and inequalities, foregrounding concepts of home and racism. Nissa has a keen interest in research methods and since 2000 she has led the Evidence for Equality National Survey (EVENS). Her books include ‘Racism and Ethnic Inequality in a time of Crisis: findings from the Evidence for Equality National Survey’ (Policy Press, 2023; available as a free ebook) and ‘Sleepwalking to segregation’? Challenging myths of race and migration’ (Policy Press, 2009). Nissa is a permanent member of the Office for National Statistics Census Ethnic Group Assurance Panel.


How Illiberal Memory Politics is Hijacking the Discourse on Antisemitism

Antisemitism Now: Seminar Series

Date: 17 October 2023

Time: 1.00pm – 2.00pm (BST)

Location: Online

Speaker: Andrea Pető, Central European University

Booking: Free seminar for scholars. Book your place.

In this seminar, Andrea Pető considers how different illiberal governments and political parties are hijacking the memory politics of the Holocaust. The list of their interventions is long: rehabilitating controversial politicians of the interwar era; rewriting the history curriculum in secondary education; erecting Second World War monuments at night; founding several revisionist historical research institutions and museums; and erasing the memory of local collaborators – to mention just a few.

Andrea Pető proposes that there are three possible ways of conceiving this turn in memory politics: distortion, revisionism, or paradigm change.  She will argue that it is only paradigm change which can explain how illiberal governments achieve the seemingly impossible task of rehabilitating antisemitic politicians while purportedly fighting against antisemitism.

Andrea Pető is a historian and a Professor at the Department of Gender Studies, Central European University, Austria, a Research Affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest, and a Doctor of Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her works on gender, politics, Holocaust, and war have been translated into 23 languages. Recent publications include: Forgotten Massacre: Budapest 1944 (DeGruyter, 2021) and The Women of the Arrow Cross Party. Invisible Hungarian Perpetrators in the Second World War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). She was awarded the 2018 All European Academies (ALLEA) Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values and the 2022 University of Oslo Human Rights Award.

The politics of definition: does defining racism help overcome it?

Antisemitism Now: Seminar Series

Date: 15 November 2023

Time: 1.00– 2.00 pm (GMT)

Location: Online

Speakers: Rebecca Ruth Gould, SOAS and Marc Volovici, University of Haifa

Booking: Free seminar for scholars. Book your place.

In this seminar Marc Volovici and Rebecca Ruth Gould will consider the value and limits of definitions in confronting antisemitism and Islamophobia and the potential merits of alternative approaches.

Marc Volovici co-editor (with David Feldman) of Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Politics of Definition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023) will draw on the essays collected in this volume to consider the different historical and political circumstances which have shaped definitions of Jews and Muslims, antisemitism and Islamophobia over time and to offer a new perspective on how these successive definitions should be understood. Recent years have witnessed a widespread turn to definitions as a means of combatting racism. Rebecca Ruth Gould’s paper, entitled ‘Does Defining Racism Help Overcome it?’, will draw on her contribution to the book. She will probe the limits of this definitional turn and will suggest an alternative means of combatting racism in everyday life.

Rebecca Ruth Gould is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Poetics and Global Politics, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her books include Erasing Palestine: Free Speech and Palestinian Freedom(Verso, 2023), The Persian Prison Poem: Sovereignty and the Political Imagination (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), and Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (Yale University Press, 2016). She has written on the challenges of defining antisemitism and respecting free speech for Prospect Magazine, Jacobin, Political Quarterly, and Middle East Eye, among other venues.

Marc Volovici is Alfred Landecker Lecturer at the University of Haifa’s department of Jewish History. Together with David Feldman, he is the co-editor of Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Politics of Definition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). Marc is the author of German as a Jewish Problem: The Language Politics of Jewish Nationalism (Stanford University Press, 2020). He served as an academic advisor and co-edited the exhibition catalogue for the 2019 exhibition ‘Jews, Money, Myth’, developed in collaboration with the Jewish Museum London. Marc is a Research Fellow at the Bucerius Institute for Research of Contemporary German History and Society, and the Haifa Interdisciplinary Unit for Polish Studies. His new project explores the question of public self-criticism in modern Jewish politics.


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