Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism : Birkbeck University of London
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The Classification of Humanity: Defining and Dividing Societies in the Modern Era

November 27-28, 2016

Call for Papers: Deadline 31 March 2016

Fourth ICRAR Conference to be held at: Bucerius Institute, University of Haifa

A conference organized by:

We are planning a major international conference focusing on the classification and categorization of human groups and individuals. Hosted by the University of Haifa’s Bucerius Institute for the Study of Contemporary German History and Society and School of History, this will be the fourth annual conference of the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism (ICRAR). Like previous ICRAR conferences, the goal of this meeting is to address questions that are central to the study of antisemitism by way of comparison with other forms of racism. Selected papers will be published in a peer-reviewed volume that will appear as part of the new ICRAR book series with Palgrave, Rethinking Antisemitism. 

In “The Classification of Humanity” we have in mind two separate but interrelated levels of classification. The first level concerns classifications found in various historical objects or moments that are critical for the historical understanding of antisemitism and racism. The second level concerns classifications employed by contemporary scholars in their analyses of topics related to antisemitic and racist phenomena.

For example, we are interested in various bureaucratic attempts to establish ostensibly objective definitions of subjective categories such as race, ethnicity, and nationality.  How have such definitions been devised, applied, internalized and instrumentalized?  How have censuses and other statistical surveys been designed, wittingly and unwittingly, to create, challenge or perpetuate specific categories?  We are also interested in visual markers that have been used to represent different populations.  How have these markers been coded? How have they changed over time? What categories of analysis and forms of classification are used by contemporary scholars of historical sources and material culture? What roles have folklorists, musicologists, anthropologists, sociologists and art historians played in characterizing and defining other cultures? What role have such definitions played in legal debates, especially with regard to affirmative action and other attempts to redress historical wrongs?  How have broader, binary conceptions of gender shaped the categorization of humanity? And, implicit in all of these questions, how have individuals attempted to ‘pass’ between different racial, national, ethnic and gender categories?

In addition to cases that examine the relationship between classifications imposed from without and self-imposed classifications, we are also interested in tracing the creation,  implementation and internalization of new categories, as well as the erosion, contraction or elimination of other, time-worn categories. Lastly, we are particularly interested in reflecting on the question of the persistence of particular categories (or their underlying definitions) long after their ostensible erosion or disappearance.

Deadline for applications: 31 March 2016

Scholars and students interested in taking part in this international conference should send proposals of one page to

We hope to be able to supply financial support for those attending from abroad, in particular for advanced graduate students and early career scholars.


Amos Morris-Reich, Bucerius Institute for the Study of Contemporary German History and Society and Department of Jewish History, Haifa University

Michael L. Miller, Nationalism Studies Program and Jewish Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest

Scott Ury, Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism and Department of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University