CFP: Conference on the Litvak Diaspora, July 2023, Cape Town, South Africa

Adam Mendelsohn's picture

CFP: Conference "The Litvak Diaspora"

Litvaks formed a significant share of Jewish emigrants from eastern Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and an early majority among eastern European Jews in many towns and cities in their countries of settlement. This conference focuses on these migrants and their legacies, seeking to understand whether those who considered themselves Lithuanian Jews - by their dialect, political affiliations, intellectual and religious orientation, or geographical origin - produced distinct migratory and settlement patterns.

Our focus is both on the dynamics of emigration (regional selectivity, the role of networks, chain migration and onward movement, the interplay between the diaspora and places of origin, the creation of new Litvak centres, the role of immigration in shaping Litvak identity), and on the impact these immigrants had on the places where they settled.

Were people more likely to leave this region and, if so, why? What, if anything, was distinctive about these Litvak migrants, the cultural baggage they carried with them, and the communities that they built? How do we define Litvak identity given that the boundaries of Lite changed across time: from the historical territory of the Great Duchy of Lithuania to a narrower Lite distinct from Raysn (Belarus) in the 19th century, to ethnic Lithuania in the 20th century? How did Litvak migrants shape Jewish life, thought, and institutions in the places across the globe in which they clustered?  What were the relations between Lithuanian Jews and other immigrants from these same regions, between Jewish immigrants and non-Jewish immigrants, and with their non-Jewish neighbours in the places they settled? And how did they represent their migrant experience or Jewish-Lithuanian identity in art, films, literature, museum or ego-documents?

The conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa on 3-5 July 2023. Accommodation for four nights and catering will be provided; participants will be responsible for covering the cost of their transportation to and from Cape Town. Some funding will be provided toward the travel costs of junior scholars. 

Please send one-page proposals and a short bio to by 3 October 2022.

Organising committee:

Tobias Brinkmann

Michael Casper

Eric Goldstein

Tony Kushner

Ruth Leiserowitz

Claire Le Foll

Adam Mendelsohn

Daniel Soyer

Is this conference on the Litvak Diaspora affiliated with a particular university in Cape Town? This will help when I apply for travel funding with my university.
Prof. Richard Sonn