February 7-9, 2023 | Heidelberg Center for Jewish Studies
Jewish-Arab relations continue to be explored through the opposing research paradigms of conflict and coexistence: While the conflict paradigm projects the political struggle over Israel/Palestine onto earlier periods of Jewish-Arab relations, the coexistence paradigm imagines an ideal past of inter-ethnic and interfaith harmony. By contrast, recent scholarship has emphasized the dynamics of interaction, entanglement,and transculturation, crystallized in a long history of hybrid identities: Even in contexts of asymmetric power relations and violent encounters, Jewish-Arab history has produced paradoxical effects of mutual learning and cultural borrowing – ranging from entangled epistemic networks in the Middle Ages to the modern phenomena of the “Hebrew Bedouin” or the PLO’s “Palestinian Zionism” (Sadeq al-Azm). While the entangled history of Jewish-Arab relations is increasingly well-established, our workshop seeks to advance theory-guided approaches to Jewish-Arab transculturation. How can we explore transfer, interaction, and appropriation in Jewish-Arab history from a comparative perspective? How can we make sense of the radical power shifts caused by European colonialism and the modern nation-state without losing sight of the longue durée of Jewish-Arab relations? How could the research field of Transcultural Studies help us to bridge the disciplinary partition between Jewish Studies / Israel Studies and Middle East Studies / Islamic Studies? And how could we refine our understanding of Jewish-Arab relations by studying transculturation in other world regions, ranging from East Asia or South Asia all the way to the Caribbean? The workshop will be held in a three-day format and is supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the framework of the joint research project “Beyond Conflict and Coexistence: An Entangled History of Jewish-Arab Relations” (Heidelberg, Munich, Halle). The keynote speech at the workshop will be given by Oren Barak (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).