Studies of modern antisemitism have focused primarily on Germany, as both the country where the phenomenon is seen to have originated and where it reached its genocidal culmination in the Holocaust. This has led to an all too frequent identification of antisemitism with racial theories developed in Western Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century that came at the expense of the multiplicity of forms antisemitism took in spaces considered ‘peripheral’ to the European ‘centre’. Inextricably linked with the spatially and temporally uneven processes of modernisation, a plurality of modern antisemitisms became prominent during the same period in Europe’s ‘peripheries’ – East, North and South, as well as in the colonies – reflecting both transfers and imports of concepts developed in the European ‘centre’, on the one hand, and specificities related to distinct developmental paths, including different religious traditions in spaces less affected by industrial development. Similarly, the majority of studies dealing with antisemitism have focused primarily on antisemitic ideas and ideologies, displaying an interest in intellectuals and elites that has often ignored ‘popular’ antisemitisms visible among other social groups, such as peasants or workers, or indeed the reception and impact of antisemitic intellectuals among the general public.
As such, the present conference seeks to nuance such narratives by bringing into discussion views from the peripheries. In this context, the concept of modern antisemitism is seen not as an exclusive product of a centre that was consequently transferred to the peripheries, but rather in the framework of the entanglements between such transfers and local patterns of exclusion, producing a plurality of narratives and forms of prejudice that in turn affected the racist concepts developed at the centre.
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