The Holocaust and the Struggle for Civil Rights
Centre for German-Jewish Studies and the Sussex Centre for American Studies
University of Sussex, 14–15 April 2016
Until not long ago, the story of the African American civil rights movement has been told largely within the context of American history. Only since the collapse of communism has scholarship started to acknowledge how U.S. foreign policy concerns and the competition with the Soviet Union forced policy makers in Washington to support the civil rights agenda elsewhere. More recently, research highlighted America's involvement in Europe, and the role that the expanding American military base system and face to face encounters with Germans and other Europeans in the aftermath of the Second World War played in the unfolding drama of the civil rights struggle. By bringing a segregated Jim Crow army to military bases outside the physical boundaries of the United States, America literally transposed its racial conflict and its actors onto foreign soil. While this new reading of history shows how Germany emerged as a critical point of reference in African American demands for equal rights and an end to segregation, one cannot ignored the fact that it occurred in the place that, just a few years earlier, experienced an abrupt and unprecedented transformation from prejudice to segregation to a state-sponsored genocide of Jews and several other groups that were classified as ‘racially’ undesirable. To be sure, as early as 1933, African-American civil rights activists used white America's condemnation of Nazi racism to denounce the discrimination of black people at home and to argue that ‘separate’ can never be ‘equal’. America's entry into the war allowed these activists to significantly step up their rhetoric and to call for an end to segregation.
The aim of the Workshop will be to explore the multifaceted links between the history and memory of the Holocaust and the development of the civil right movements in the U.S. and worldwide. It will provide an opportunity not only to engage with how the Holocaust prompted (or perhaps inhibited) ideas of civil rights and social justice, but also with the ways in which civil rights movements helped to make the Holocaust into a model for global collective memory of civil resistance. In addition to the African American civil rights movement, the Workshop seeks papers that deal with the interplay between the Holocaust and the civil rights movements in places like South America, (South) Africa, Europe, and more recently the Middle East.
The organizers invite proposals for 20-minute papers that engage with these and related themes.
Abstracts are due ON the 7th of December 2015.
Abstracts of no more than 200 words with a brief biography that includes professional affiliation and contact details should be sent to Tom Davies T.A.Davies@sussex.ac.uk, Gideon Reuveni email@example.com and Kim Wünschmann K.Wuenschmann@sussex.ac.uk.
Successful candidates will be notified by mid January 2016.
Limited budget might be available to support travel expenses, but participants will be encouraged to cover travel costs with their own funds.
For any inquires please contact:
Tom Davies T.A.Davies@sussex.ac.uk
Gideon Reuveni firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Wünschmann K.Wuenschmann@sussex.ac.uk.