CALL FOR PAPERS: Extended deadline, Conference "Home as a place for anti-Jewish persecution in European cities, 1933-1945. Crossing urban social history and history of the Holocaust"

Constance Paris de Bollardière's picture

International Conference

American University of  Paris (January 11 and 12, 2018)

Co-organized by:

The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention, American University of Paris

Le Centre de Recherches Historiques, EHESS-CNRS

L'Institut de Sciences sociales du Politique, Université Paris Nanterre-ENS Paris Saclay-CNRS


The History of the Holocaust has taken a spatial turn, borrowing concepts and tools from geography. Two recent edited collections are representative: Geographies of the Holocaust (Knowles et al. 2014) and Hitler’s Geographies (Giaccaria and Minca 2016). However, these recent local and spatial studies deal almost exclusively with the killing areas, camps, and ghettos. They pay less attention to the “ordinary” western and southeastern European cities where persecution proceeded in a looser space. Anti-Jewish persecution didn’t only happen in specifically designed or transformed spaces such as camps and ghettos. It invaded spaces of everyday life in European cities: public spaces, work places and private spaces such as homes. In this landscape not only Jews and agents of persecution appear but also their immediate residential environment: concierges, neighbors, nannies, landlords, property managers, sub-tenants, local administrations, etc. These figures have an essential place in the memories of Jewish survivors. Though, so far, scholars have hardly addressed their role. The spatial turn that occurred during the last fifteen years in Anglophone Holocaust studies focused on the symbolic places of genocide. It mostly neglected apartment blocks and ordinary cities as spaces of persecution although much work has been done on the looting and the seizure and reallocation of the apartments hitherto occupied by Jews, mainly in Reich's cities. But this research neglected occupied territories and other Axis countries, the interactions with non-Jewish neighbors as well as spatial aspects. Recent work opened this new field of investigation. It inspired the conference to come.


This conference intends to bridge these various perspectives and methods and focus on urban housing as a place for anti-Jewish persecution. The genocide of European Jewry did not begin in camps, police stations, ghettos but in ordinary urban blocks, townhouses and residential suburbs, before, during and after deportation, before and in parallel to the creation of ghettos. The conference will gather social scientists from various fields to confront various investigation methods and cases, in Reich cities but also in Western and Eastern European occupied cities.

Inspired by the organizers’ current research on the Parisian case, the conference will deal with policies of seizure and reallocation of the apartments of the Jews in Paris, but will not be restricted to those questions.


One page abstracts are specifically invited that examine:


-interlinkage between persecution and policies of housing / urban developments;

-the beneficiaries of the spoliation of urban housing;

-interactions between Jews and non-Jews concerning the seizure of housing, its re-allocation and restitution after the liberation;

-the place of homes in the experiences of individuals (use of testimonies as such as the Visual History Archive collection welcome)


To be sent to and before July 12, 2017. Answers will be given to the applicants by the end of July.


Applications for grants for presenters from outside the Parisian region will be considered.


Organizing committee

Isabelle Backouche (EHESS-CRH), Eric Le Bourhis (FMS-ISP), Shannon Fogg (Missouri S&T), Sarah Gensburger (CNRS-ISP), Constance Pâris de Bollardière (AUP), Brian Schiff (AUP).