Deadline: 30.04.2021

Call for proposals - the online conference "What’s New, What’s Next?"

Zdjęcie ilustracyjne do wydarzenia - z jednego z wydarzeń organizowanych w ramach GEOP
fot. Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews invites panel proposals for What’s New, What’s Next? Innovative Methods, New Sources, and Paradigm Shifts in Jewish Studies, an interdisciplinary online conference that will explore new directions in the study of East and Central European Jews (3-7 October, 2021). 

We invite panel proposals in the following areas:

  1. Theory in Jewish studies
  • What is the potential relevance of new theoretical directions in the humanities and social sciences to specific research problems in Jewish studies?
  • How has work in Jewish studies contributed to theoretical developments in the humanities and social sciences more generally?
  1. Paradigms, methodologies, and sources in Jewish studies
  • Which methodologies are Jewish studies scholars using, how, and to what effect? To what extent and in what ways are Jewish studies scholars creating new methodologies? Which other methodologies in the humanities and social sciences might productively be applied in Jewish studies?
  • Which new sources are being explored in Jewish studies? Which kinds of sources have been neglected by researchers and what is their potential?
  • Where are the paradigm shifts in Jewish studies and how might they be accounted for?
  • How might a wider range of disciplines and greater degree of interdisciplinarity enrich Jewish studies? What potential might comparative approaches hold?
  1. Problematics, emphases, and lacunae
  • What are the key questions that currently dominate the study of East and Central European Jews? What accounts for those emphases? What questions remain to be asked and how might they reshape the field?
  • How has the emphasis on the modern period and especially the 20th century shaped Jewish studies more generally? To what extent has this emphasis overshadowed the study of earlier periods? What are the critical questions for scholars of the medieval and early modern periods, as well as for scholars of the long 19th century, and how might greater attention to those periods shape the study of East and Central European Jews in the modern period? We strongly encourage panel proposals on the earlier periods.
  • How have the disciplinary emphases in Jewish studies, especially history and literature, shaped the field? How might scholars working in art and architectural history, museology, musicology, linguistics, philosophy, religious thought, anthropology, sociology, social psychology, and performance studies, among other fields, contribute to Jewish studies? How might cross-disciplinary and comparative work strengthen Jewish studies? We strongly encourage panel proposals that represent a broad range of disciplines.
  • How might attention to the history of the field, its problematics, emphases, and lacunae reveal new opportunities for Jewish studies? How might a comparison of the development of the field in Israel, North America, and Europe reveal potential for collaboration?
  1. Advantages and disadvantages of the digital revolution
  • In what ways are new technologies revolutionizing Jewish studies?
  • How are large databases of archival documents, photographs, objects, and press, coupled with more sophisticated search tools, changing the way scholars work and Jewish studies as a field?
  • What are the challenges in creating and managing these large databases and how might obstacles to institutional collaboration be overcome?
  • How is such easy access to such vast resources changing Jewish studies? What more could new technologies bring to Jewish studies in the future?

    We encourage a critical analysis of the potential and threats posed by the digital humanities, rather than simply a presentation of digital resources as such.
  1. Ethics and politics
  • Does Jewish studies possess its own code of ethics?
  • Do the field and those working in it have a social responsibility?
  • How are scholars affected by contemporary concerns, whether contested histories, conflicted memory, or historical policy, among others?
  • How are scholars and their work implicated in wider debates?
  • How do they respond to pressure from various quarters?
  • What is the impact, actual and potential, of Jewish studies on the contexts within which scholars are working?
  1. Role of cultural institutions
  • What is the role of museums, memorials, and cultural centers in the development and popularization of Jewish studies?
  • What is their relationship to universities and research institutes, libraries, and archives?
  • Are museums complementary or do they partially take over the functions of academic institutions, especially in places where the study of East and Central European Jews is not well established?
  • To what extent is the democratization of knowledge of the Jewish past and culture a threat or an opportunity for Jewish studies?
  • How have Jewish studies scholars benefitted from the experience of collaborating with museums?
  1. Legacies

    As a result of the Holocaust, the large and vibrant Jewish communities of East and Central Europe were decimated. The legacy of the world they created lives on both in Europe, where there is a renewal of Jewish life on a small scale, and in the many places in the world where millions of Jews made their home both before and after the Holocaust.
  • What is the status of research into these communities and their relationship to their former places of residence?
  • How, where, and why do these communities engage with the legacy of the civilization created by East and Central European Jews?
  • What is the role of museums, memorialization, heritage tourism, and other forms of cultural production?
  • What might a comparative study of these communities in North and South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Israel, and other parts of Europe yield?


  • The invitation is for panels of  three 20-minute papers – proposals for a single presentation are not eligible. The conference Academic Committee will assign panel chairs and discussants. 
  • The panel proposal should include an abstract (150 words) for the panel as a whole, the name and affiliation of each panelist, and the title and abstract (150 words) for each paper.
  • Panels should be thematically coherent.
  • Panel proposals must be in English.
  • Deadline: proposals must be submitted electronically by April 30, 2021. 
  • Acceptance will be announced by June 30, 2021