CALL FOR PAPERS: Online Workshop Series 'Picturing Jewish Dress: Researching Belonging and Identification Through Historical Visual Sources' (online Oct - Dec 2020)

Svenja Bethke's picture
Call for Papers
August 7, 2020
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Jewish History / Studies

Call for Papers: Online Workshop Series (Oct - Dec 2020)

Picturing Jewish Dress: Researching Belonging and Identification Through Historical Visual Sources

This online workshop series seeks to explore the significance of dress in Jewish history through engagement with and exploration of visual sources. Scholars interested in Jewish history have emphasised the importance of cultural practices as an expression of belonging and identification across broad time periods. A few of them have also fruitfully explored the significance of dress and visual representations. However, studies that integrate these different lines of inquiry with an explicit focus on visual representations of Jewish dress and the visual creation of notions of ‘Jewishness’ through dress are scarce.

Organised by Svenja Bethke (Hebrew University of Jerusalem/University of Leicester) and Gil Pasternak (De Montfort University Leicester), the workshop series Picturing Jewish Dress seeks to integrate these impulses across a broad historical timeframe by exploring the crucial role played by dress in Jewish history through engagement with and exploration of visual sources.

Dress, for any community, is situated at the intersection of the private and the public domains. While intimately covering the individual’s body, it is always perceived and interpreted by others in the public sphere. Throughout history dress has been employed as one key means to express one’s self-understanding, identification, values, and feelings of belonging to social groups, cultural spheres or communities.

Through the organisation of the workshop series we want to shed light on the significance of such notions within Jewish history with a broad chronological focus from a global perspective. We specifically wish to explore how visual representations of dress can be used to gain insights into questions of belonging and identification, values, traditions and histories across diverse Jewish communities. We are equally interested in investigating how visual representations of Jewish dress may enable us to understand the mechanisms of discrimination and exclusion used by non-Jewish actors.

Alongside analysis of photographic images taken since the 19th century, we want to explore the use of photography in circulating and perpetuating imagery about Jewish life and culture from earlier time periods, and the role played by digital technology and digitisation processes in preserving Jewish heritage. This seems timely as historical photographs in particular become increasingly available to scholars and members of the public through their digitisation and subsequent increased accessibility. Similar to the emergence of the medium of photography and the impact it has exerted on the documentation as well as on the distortion of Jewish identities, digital technology and digitisation processes now take responsibility to preserve Jewish heritage and social approaches to the Jewish people.

The workshop series will take place at least once a month between October and December 2020 and will be delivered via an online video communication platform. In addition, we intend to publish extended versions of the contributions in a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal, which will be dedicated to the same theme.

We invite proposals for 15-minute papers on any historical time period that explore how:

  • photographic sources have led to the perpetuation of “old” or “new” images of Jewish dress (whether they were originally produced as photographs, paintings, drawings, sketches or any other medium of representation);
  • photographic sources allow us to explore the changing role and meaning of dress in Jewish history.

Although not limited to these, paper proposals may refer to explorations of Jewish dress and visual sources in contexts such as:

  • Archives, museums and digital collections;
  • Research methods and approaches;
  • Photographic production and reproduction practices.

Proposals of maximum 300 words for 15-minute papers should be sent by 7 August 2020 to

For more details please consult the longer version of the Call for Papers.

Contact Info: 

Svenja Bethke (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem/University of Leicester)

Gil Pasternak (De Montfort University Leicester)