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Call for papers: The Middle Eastern Turn in Jewish Studies

19 May 2022

Date: 2 November 2022
Location: University of Groningen
Submission deadline: 9 June 2022

Description of the conference

NGJS logo

The Dutch Association of Jewish Studies (Nederlands Genootschap voor Joodse Studiën, NGJS) is pleased to announce a call for papers for its annual conference on 2 November 2022, devoted to the theme ‘The Middle Eastern Turn in Jewish Studies’. The NGJS annual conference aims to bring together researchers in the Netherlands in the field of Jewish Studies to share current research and to jointly reflect on current trends and issues in the field. It further aims to facilitate collaboration between researchers and to connect junior and senior scholars.

In recent years, research on Jews and Judaism in the context of the Middle East has been flourishing. This area of research has opened up numerous new lines of inquiry, which have jointly challenged some of the main assumptions dominating the field. They include, to name a few, the complexity of Jewish experiences and identities in the Middle East, the history and conceptualisation of the term ‘Arab Jew’, Jewish transnational networks, Jews and orientalism, Zionism(s) (and Jewish opposition to Zionism), the parallels and connections between Jewish and Islamic reformist movements, the relation between Jews and colonialism, and the Holocaust in the context of the Middle East and North Africa.

While this ‘Middle Eastern turn’ is commonly applied to scholarship on modern Jewish communities in the Middle East in a narrow sense, the aim of this conference is to broadly reflect on the implications of this ‘turn’ for the field of Jewish Studies. Is it possible to speak of a ‘Middle Eastern turn’ in Jewish Studies, and if so, what does this turn imply for researchers working in the field of Jewish Studies in the Netherlands? More fundamentally: is the Middle East inextricably tied to Jews and Judaism? How can the Middle East be understood and applied as a framework of reference, be it as a geographical, imperialist, or literary construct, and what rivalling or alternative frameworks can be used? Researchers are invited to reflect on the implications of a ‘Middle Eastern turn’ for their own field of inquiry, as well as for the diverse field of Jewish Studies in the Netherlands.


The one-day conference will include a keynote lecture, 15-minute paper presentations by the participants, and a closing panel discussion on the theme of the conference and the implications of the papers presentations. The conference will be held in English, but applications for paper presentations in Dutch are also accepted. The preliminary program will be announced in late June.

Who can apply?

Researchers in the field of Jewish Studies. Junior researchers (advanced MA students and PhD students) are particularly encouraged to apply. Scholars outside the Netherlands are also welcome to apply. Please note that the NGJS does not provide funds for travel and related expenses.

How to apply

Please send an abstract of 200-300 words as well as a short biography of maximum 100 words by 9 June to NGJS2022 . Please specify in your application if you would like to present in English or in Dutch. This email address can also be used for enquiries regarding the conference.


This conference is organized by Dr Lucia Admiraal (Middle Eastern Studies), Dr Arjen Bakker (Jewish, Christian and Islamic Origins), and Dr Sasha Goldstein (Middle-Eastern Studies) of the University of Groningen.

Last modified:06 January 2023 3.57 p.m.

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