2020 Biennial Scholars Conference on American Jewish History: "Future Tense"
The Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, in conjunction with the American Jewish Archives, American Jewish Historical Society, and the Center for Jewish History, invites proposals via email to [email protected] by November 10, 2019.
The 2020 Biennial Scholars' Conference on American Jewish History takes place at a time of political, social, religious, and scientific tensions, highlighting divisions in American society and sharpening debates over how to plan for the future. Such times invite scholars to reflect on how American Jews have addressed earlier moments of deep concern, contention and crisis. How did they make sense of the challenges they faced – as Jews, as citizens, and as political, social, and creative actors? How did they implement plans for a distressing or aspirational Jewish future based on how they read their present?
The Scholars Conference also gives us the opportunity to consider the role of scholarship in shaping public discourse in anxious times. In 1892, the founders of the AJHS hoped that the rigorous study of American Jewish history could dispel rising prejudice against Jews. Countless scholars and communal leaders have followed in their footsteps, putting faith in research to allay communal anxieties and to ensure a vibrant Jewish future. In similar fashion, scholars have sometimes drawn on their training to take roles as comforters or activists during turbulent times. Indeed, concerns about the Jewish future have given rise to entire fields and shaped scholars' research questions. How have scholars in the past read and misread crucial moments of history? How have their understandings of the past shaped their recommendations and prescriptions for the future? How have contemporary concerns directed or misdirected interpretations of the past? How have communal agendas become intertwined in scholarly predictions of future events? And more practically: How can scholars today engage in meaningful public discourse at a moment when present and future seem tense?
The Scholars Conference Committee will gladly consider proposals exploring any aspect of American Jewish history and culture. The Committee encourages the submission of complete panels and nontraditional types of panels, including seminars, roundtables, and lightning sessions. It will also consider individual paper submissions. In all cases, the Committee urges contributors to approach the conference as an opportunity to share ideas through interactive conversation and accessible presentations. International scholars, graduate students, and scholars with limited financial resources are all encouraged to apply. Once acceptance decisions are made, a limited number of travel grants will be made available.