Conference dates: 6 & 7 July 2023
Organised by Dr Maria Roca Lizarazu (NUI Galway), Dr Lizzie Stewart (King’s College London) and Prof Godela Weiss-Sussex (IMLR)
In her book The Translated Jew (2018), Leslie Morris suggests a fundamental reconfiguration of established understandings of German Jewish writing and cultural production, defining it as never comfortably belonging anywhere, as sitting “outside the margins” and “always in a state of becoming”. Certainly, the context for German-language Jewish cultural production has changed dramatically since the late 1990s, as a significant number of Jewish authors, playwrights and directors moved to Germany post-unification, predominantly from Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Israel. Given the highly diverse range of cultural and political backgrounds, histories and languages which shape German-language Jewish cultural production today, this conference thus seeks to re-read and re-view contemporary German-language Jewish literary, filmic, performance, and discursive work, attending to these emergent configurations.
Artist-activists such as Max Czollek, Sasha Salzmann, and Olga Grjasnowa have suggested that one new lens or positioning could be provided by allying with or inhabiting the concept of ‘postmigration’. This term, popularized by Berlin theatre makers of colour in the 2000s, has also become a site of theory-building by both artist-activists and academics. For the latter it implies a new future-orientated perspective that positions migration as central rather than marginal to society (Yildiz 2014), also providing “a normative political vision” (Ring Peterson & Schramm 2017) of “how we want to live together in societies characterised by increasing heterogeneity” (Foroutan 2016). We are therefore interested in exploring how contemporary Jewish cultural production may open up, connect with, or enact new, future-orientated postmigrant imaginaries of belonging and co-habitation in German-language contexts. Recent examples might include provocative performance festivals such as “Desintegriert Euch!” (2017) and “Tage der Jüdisch-Muslimischen Leitkultur” (2020); plays written or directed by artists such as Sasha Salzmann and Yael and Michael Ronen; short films such as Arkadij Khaet’s and Mickey Paatzsch’s Masel Tov Cocktail (2020); Esther Dischereit’s artistic work on mourning and recognising the victims of right-wing terrorism; Jewish contributions to postmigrant intellectual projects, such as Fatma Aydemir’s and Hengameh Yaghoobifarah’s Eure Heimat ist unser Albtraum (2019); and the “multidirectional” (Rothberg 2009) engagement with non-Jewish experiences of violence, war and persecution in the literary works of Olga Grjasnowa, Julya Rabinowich and Vladimir Vertlib. How can artistic practices and products create new imaginaries which experiment with alternative future modes of affiliation, alliance, home-making, commitment, and dissent?
The conference will take place in-person at Senate House, London on 6-7 July 2023, with keynotes from Prof Erol Yıldız (Innsbruck), and Prof Leslie Morris (Minneapolis), as well as a workshop element. We invite 20-minute academic contributions from a wide range of disciplines, alongside practice-based and creative contributions. Presentations might address the examples above but are certainly not limited to these. We are particularly interested in the following questions and themes:
- Which new transnational, inclusive and future-oriented imaginaries of belonging, co-habitation and citizenship are being developed in contemporary cultural production by German Jewish authors and artists who migrated to German-speaking countries post-1990?
- How do contemporary Jewish artists and their work connect with other migrant(ized)/postmigrant artists and the broader body of postmigrant artistic enunciations?
- How do lines of influence and solidarity move across media (between literature and theatre, between live performance and film, between the arts and feuilleton)?
- What can these postmigratory alliances tell us about the relationship between art and wider social and cultural transformation?
- What role do collaborative actions and collaborative modes of working have to play here?
- What is the relation of these new coalitions and articulations to earlier iterations of minority and migrant solidarity in Germany?
- Where are the limits of collaboration (e.g. Jewish-German reactions to controversial actions such as the Centre for Political beauty’s work with human remains; literary author Monika Maron’s shift to support of the AfD)?
- With the forthcoming English translation of Czollek’s Desintegriert euch! in mind, where and when do these interventions also find connection in the Anglophone world and beyond?