Workshop at the University of Sussex, England
Chaired by Yfaat Weiss and Raphael Gross
Report by Dr Yaacov Deutsch
In early October 2007 the recipients of the Leo Baeck Fellowship met at the University of Sussex for a three-day workshop. The workshop was an opportunity for the ten doctoral and three post-doctoral fellows to present their projects to the other participants. Each participant presented a paper that focused on one aspect of his or her work, then another participant gave a short response, and this was followed by a discussion. Since the participants come from a variety of fields – history, philosophy, literature and musicology, and since their projects deal with different time periods ranging from the medieval to the present, it may seem difficult at first to discern many common denominators. But as the discussions progressed, and especially in retrospect, some general issues were raised that are relevant to many of us and the discussions were an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience regarding these issues.
One of the topics that came up in many of the discussions was the relationship between different groups and societies especially in the context of majority-minority relationships. The different angles and approaches to this subject, e.g. from the perspective of Jewish-Christian relations or prisoners and commanders in camps, showed that although we come from various different backgrounds we can share insights about our work. Another topic at the heart of many talks was Jewish nationalism and Jews and nationalistic environments, and again these common interests led to productive conversations. The importance of these topics for us as a group led to our choosing them as foci for our next meeting.
In addition, I found the extra curricular activities and opportunities to meet over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer very productive. They allowed the development of intellectual conversations and furthered our academic relationships with each other.