Tag Archives: Bryan Cheyette

Jewish and Muslim UK Immigration Experiences: Echoes of the Past, Influences on the Present

Next talk: 

“Jewish East London and the Myths of Integration” Jewish and Muslim UK Immigration Experiences: Echoes of the Past, Influences on the Present, Cambridge Muslim College/Woolf Institute Cambridge, December 2018.

From the Woolf Institute website:

The Woolf Institute and the Cambridge Muslim College are jointly organising a one-day conference on ‘Jewish and Muslim UK Immigration Experiences: Echoes of the Past, Influences on the Present’ on Thursday 6 December 2018.

This conference will be looking at the similarities in experiences in immigration between the British Jewish and Muslim communities. It has become clear to several researchers in the field that the experiences of British Muslims are in some ways similar to the experiences of British Jews from a century earlier. This conference will allow researchers who wish to explore such connections an opportunity to present their ideas and research. The number of attendees is limited to 40 as the aim is to encourage an atmosphere of discussion, engagement and exchange amongst participants.

The morning session and lunch will take place at the Cambridge Muslim College, 14 St Paul’s Road, Cambridge CB1 2EZ, between 9.15am – 1pm, The afternoon session will run between 2.30pm – 6pm at the Woolf Institute, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0UB, followed by a reception.

Speakers include:

Dr Ed Kessler MBE, Founder Director of Woolf Institute

Dr Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London

Prof Humayan Ansari OBE , Professor of History of Islam and Culture, Royal Holloway

Bryan Cheyette, Chair in Modern Literature and Culture, Series Editor of New Horizons in Contemporary Writing

Dr Mohammed Seddon, Research Associate, British Muslim Heritage Centre

Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Jewish Theology and Philosophy; Talmud

Alyaa Ebbiary, PhD Candidate & Nohoudh Scholar, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, SOAS

Programme

9.15 Arrival at Cambridge Muslim College and introductions by Dr Ed Kessler MBE and CMC

9.30-11.00 – Panel 1

Prof Humayun Ansari, Professor of History of Islam and Culture, Royal Holloway and Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon

Coffee

11.30-1pm – Panel 2

Dr Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London and Dr Mohammed Seddon, Lecturer, University of Chester

Lunch (followed by walk/taxi/cycle to Woolf Institute)

2.30-4pm – Panel 3

Prof Bryan Cheyette, University of Reading and Alyaa Ebbiary, PhD Candidate & Nohoudh Scholar, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, SOAS

Coffee

4.30-6pm – Panel Discussion and Conclusion

Dr Ed Kessler and Alyaa Ebbiary, PhD Candidate & Nohoudh Scholar, Dept. of Anthropology & Sociology, SOAS

6pm – Reception at the Woolf Institute

Speaker Abstracts

Prof Humayun Ansari, Professor of History of Islam and Culture, Royal Holloway

A brief historical exploration of the similarities and differences between Jewish and Muslim religious claims, between their political engagement with wider society, and between antisemitism and Islamophobia in the context of and recent debates surrounding multiculturalism.

Rabbi Dr Norman Solomon

Experiences of immigrant Jewish families

Tracing the experience of three families of Jewish immigrants over three generations, one family each from Germany, Poland and Egypt. How were the original immigrants received in the UK, and how did they adapt to the new culture? In the second and third generations, how did individuals acculturate, and how and why did some break with the original culture while others sought ways to return to their ‘roots’?

Dr Ben Gidley, Senior Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London

Jewish East London and the myths of integration

The East End of London is an iconic site of migrant arrival and integration, and its history and present are conventionally narrated through a story of ethnic succession as each “wave” of migrants arrive, settle, integrate, move up and move out to make way for the next “wave”. In this narrative, Jews are often framed as a “model minority”, against whom other minorities are judged (and usually found wanting). This paper, based primarily on archival research on early 20th century East London), explores some of the flaws in this narrative, by emphasising different responses to integration among the Jewish migrant population, forms of inter-ethnic contact (including Jewish-Muslim contact), and other Jewish trajectories which cut against the successionist narrative.

Dr Mohammed Seddon, Research Associate, British Muslim Heritage Centre

Jewish and Muslim Communities in Nineteenth Century Manchester

Contemporary relations between the Muslim and Jewish communities in Britain have been largely shaped and marred by international politics as a result of the creation of the state of Israel in the aftermath of the Second World War. However, historically the two distinct communities have enjoyed long periods of cultural proximity and cross-fertilisation, particularly in their migration and settlement experiences in Britain. From as early as the late-eighteenth century Maghribi and Levantine Muslim and Jewish traders migrated into the ‘Cottonopolis’ of industrial Manchester and their shared middle-eastern traditions and cultures ensured that both communities enjoyed a lengthy reciprocal relationship of inter-religious tolerance and collective community development. This paper explores some of the issues, experiences and historical details relating to Muslim and Jewish communities in 19th century Manchester.

Professor Bryan Cheyette

“Good/Bad Jews, Good/Bad Muslims: Some Theories and Contexts”

My talk will explore the ways in which Jews and Muslims have been racialized in relation to mainstream discourses within British culture. It will look at some theoretical work (especially around supersessionism) to show that both Jews and Muslims are bifurcated into “good” and “bad” versions which play off each other in the form of racialized tolerance. The talk aims to understand the mechanisms of this bifurcation and the ways in which such distinctions function culturally, socially and politically within the British nation-state and beyond. Such processes, in differing historical contexts, apply to both Jews and Muslims now and then.

How to book

Registration is free an includes lunch and evening reception.

Tickets must be booked in advance on Eventbrite here.

For further information, contact Claire Curran at cc640@cam.ac.uk.

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From the BIH blog: Racism, Antisemitism, Theory

From the BIH blog on a recent event I co-organised.

On April 24 scholars and activists packed out a large room at Birkbeck for a one-day workshop titled ‘Racism, Antisemitism, Theory’. Organised by Dr BrendanDr Ben Gidley and Dr Aaron Winter, the workshop was generously supported by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism. The event brought together ten speakers to explore the relationship between racism and antisemitism.

For the organisers, the rationale for holding such an event was clear: across Europe, the United States and other parts of the globe, we have witnessed a resurgence of racism and nationalism, including anti-migrant xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism, as well as the mainstreaming of far right and even fascist discourses. Alongside the emboldening of colour-coded forms of racism and racialisation, older forms of antisemitism have returned to the political mainstream – openly in cases such as Hungary’s Jobbik or Greece’s Golden Dawn or just beneath the surface as in France’s Front National – while both traditional and unorthodox forms of white supremacy and antisemitic conspiracism now have a foot inside the White House.

If the task before us is to understand these racisms, old and new, then it is a task that has provided no shortage of challenges. One such discussion that has proved to be especially difficult to navigate is the relationship between racism and antisemitism. The controversies of the racism/antisemitism debate are to be found in many regions of the world, but they have been particularly keenly felt in the UK, where in the last year, the tangled and tense discussion on antisemitism in the Labour Party has continued to rumble on, often generating more heat than light.

What these and other such debates have revealed is that there are a real set of difficulties in thinking about racism and antisemitism together. At the level of the political, those who shout loudest about antisemitism sometimes have little to say about other forms of racism, and the reverse is equally true. Within the academy, scholars of racism and antisemitism are all too rarely in dialogue with one another. What we aimed to do in the workshop was to take a step back from politics towards theory. Or as Stuart Hall once put it, to take a ‘detour through theory’ as a way of renewing anti-racist scholarship.

The workshop addressed three key issues. First, we explored not just the limits but also the possibilities of bridging the conversations on racism and antisemitism. Second, we explored a range of theoretical traditions and their capacities for making sense of the racism/antisemitism relationship. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we identified some of the barriers within our existing theoretical frameworks that prevent a bringing together of these issues.

The day was split into three panels, with two papers and a discussant in each session.

In Panel 1, Professor Jack Jacobs and Dr Christine Achinger explored Critical Theory and the role it might play in helping us think through the relationship between racism and antisemitism. Jacobs offered a close reading of the writings of Frankfurt School theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, arguing that their insights into antisemitism also provide a resource for thinking about racism and other forms prejudice. Achinger drew on more recent developments in critical theory to explore the racism/antisemitism relationship.

In Panel 2, our attention turned to intersectionality and whiteness studies. In the opening paper, Professor Avtar Brah highlighted the way differential racialisations pose difficulties for anti-racist practice. In the second contribution, Professor Anoop Nayak argued for the need to think more critically about the liminal category of ‘white other’. Whiteness, he argued, is not homogenous, but multiple and mutable. Dr Gail Lewis, in her comments, reminded us of the dialogues between black and Jewish feminists in the 1970s. She also raised concern about the tendency to construct equivalences when racism and antisemitism are brought together.

In the final panel, Professor Satnam Virdee and Professor Bryan Cheyette examined whether postcolonialism might help us to think about racism and antisemitism in conjunction. In a paper that argued against ‘supersessionist’ thinking, Cheyette explored the difficulties that postcolonialism has in accounting for ‘Jewish experiences’, and similarly, the inabilities of Jewish studies to come to terms with colonial histories. In the final paper of the day, Satnam Virdee spoke of the important contributions postcolonialism has made to the study of racism, but also its difficulty in capturing the racialisation of the ‘European interior’. This, he said, is a consequence of a flattening of ‘the west’ such that other modalities of racism are elided, including antisemitism and anti-Irish racism.

Given the direction of travel in global politics, it seems that the issues raised in this workshop are unlikely to go away any time soon.