The Interface between British Contemporary Black and Jewish Cultures
Friday 4 November 2016
University of Reading, UK
Over the past three decades, a considerable body of work has emerged on the interface between Black and Jewish cultures in the United States. In contrast, there has been very little scholarship on Black-Jewish cultural relations in the context of the United Kingdom. To a certain extent, this disparity can be explained by the very different histories of Jewish and Black populations on either side of the Atlantic. The history of slavery, reconstruction, segregation and civil rights in the US has no direct analogy in the UK and the post-war cultural confidence and prominence of Jews in America contrasts conspicuously with the relative ambivalence, historically, of British Jews towards both their Jewishness and Britishness. Whilst recognizing the importance of these differences, however, there is much, in terms of the discourse that has developed around what Lori Harrison-Kahan has called the ‘Black-Jewish imaginary’ that could be appropriated, refined and revised in the British context.
We would welcome proposals of no more than 300 words for twenty-minute papers on any aspect of the interface between Black British and Jewish cultures widely defined, including but not restricted to, literature, film, television, art, digital media, photography, drama, dance and other forms of performance.
Topics may include but need not be confined to the following:
- the relationship between the ‘Black/Jewish imaginary’ in the US context and Black/Jewish cultural relations in the UK;
- the influence of African American and Jewish American artists on their British counterparts;
- the ways in which British Jewish culture has represented Black identities and vice versa;
- issues of self-representation in Black British and British Jewish cultures;
- the ways in which Black British and British Jewish cultures have interrogated questions of race, ethnicity and religion;
- the ways in which Black British and British Jewish artists have been situated and positioned themselves in terms of discourses around ‘minorities’, ‘otherness’ and ‘whiteness’;
- the ways in which Black British and British Jewish cultures have responded to the changing political, historical and economic contexts of the post-war period, particularly the activities of Far Right movements, debates over (im)migration, multiculturalism, identity politics, race relations, Apartheid-era South Africa and the Israel/Palestine conflict;
- the similarities and differences between the ways in which contemporary Black British and Jewish cultures have represented the experience of the ‘Windrush’ generation of Black immigrants and that of post-war Jewish immigrants to the UK;
- the ways in which twenty-first century Black and Jewish British cultures have responded to the presence of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racism and xenophobia in contemporary society and discourse.
A buffet lunch will be provided and reasonable travel expenses for UK-based delegates will be covered.