Jews, Race, and Public Memory” 44th Annual Conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society
The Southern Jewish Historical Society will host its 44th annual conference from October 24-27 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The conference theme is “Jews, Race, and Public Memory.”
Charlottesville is well known as the home of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, author of the Declaration of Independence, sponsor of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and of course, third president of the United States. At his plantation, Monticello, more than 400 enslaved people lived in bondage. Yet, Jefferson was revered as the defender of religious and political liberty—and his home was preserved for almost 100 years by a Jewish family, the Levys, who had close ties to the South.
These intersections of race, religion, and public space will provide a compelling setting to explore the place of Jews in the South. That ambiguous place—both insider and outsider, sometimes white, sometimes “other”—was fundamental to their experiences and opportunities. When the Unite the Right rally participants came to Charlottesville in August 2017, weaving antisemitism into their larger campaign of hatred and violence, the connections between white supremacy, racism, and antisemitism rose to the surface and continue to effect national discourse.
The conference organizing committee seeks proposals for panels and papers based on primary source research, or roundtables that facilitate discussion about broad themes of interest to the field of southern Jewish history. Proposals for complete panels are especially encouraged. Areas of particular interest include: Jews’ racial, ethnic, and religious identification in the upper South; relations between African Americans and southern Jews; southern Jews’ relationship to white supremacy, as its beneficiaries, its victims, and as activists for racial equality; the impact of university towns and the politics of race on southern Jewish history as a field of inquiry; how national policies affect local experiences; public histories, public memories, and the politics of memorialization. All topics should have a direct relationship to southern and Jewish histories.