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Jews in Italy Conference Series

Sunday, May 5, 2019 - 9:00 AM to Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 5:45 PM

The University of Maryland in College Park, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, the Italian Research Program of National Interest-PRIN 2015 The Long History of Anti-Semitism, and the International Research Group in Early Modern Religious Dissents & Radicalism – EMoDiR are planning an exciting series of three conferences during 2018–20 on the history of Jews in Italy during what is called the “long Renaissance.”

These meetings seek to explore forms of cooperation, imitation, exchange, alliance, and  interaction between Jews and Christians in early modern Italy. The research project seeks to challenge the traditional paradigm that looks at the history of Christian-Jewish interactions only through the prism of anti-Semitism. We seek to demonstrate strategies of coexistence between different religions and cultures, strategies that helped to shape early modern European political and social history and were instrumental in defining what has been defined as modernity.

The first conference on “Sabbateanism in Italy and its Mediterranean Context” will be hosted in Rome on January 20-22, 2019. Participants will investigate the Sabbatean excitement and the movement’s activities in Italy. Others will address the aftermath of this messianic movement in later generations on the Peninsula. We hope to broaden the conversation in several ways, first through consideration of other millenarian preaching and excitement among Jews during the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. Also participants have been encouraged to compare Sabbateanism with millenarian and heretical movements among Christians and Muslims in Italy, in the Mediterranean, and in Europe more widely. The conference will go beyond the enthusiasts themselves to describe the various types of reaction they elicited—whether celebration or suppression, passive disregard or active discipline

The second conference on “State Building and Minorities: Jews in Italy” will be held at the University of Maryland, College Park and at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, May 5–7, 2019 and will focus particularly on the social history of Italian Jews and their interaction with the Christian society.  We want to investigate the reasons that lead Italian princes and republics to refuse the Spanish policy on Jews (expulsion), in favour of an ‘Italian way’ (concentration in ghettos) of structuring Christian-Jewish relations. Our aim is principally to insert the study of Jewish institutions, norms and behaviours into the broader context of Italian and Mediterranean history.

The third conference will be held in Jerusalem in January 2020 and deal with “Translations and Traditions: Mobilities of the Early-Modern Bible.” This meeting will move the focus to the intellectual and material culture of Italian Jews. We seek to cast light on the deep influence exercised by Jews in intellectual and material transformations that are considered typical of Italian Renaissance: philosophy and esotericism, printing and book culture, literature, music, artistic and non-artistic objects, figurative arts, housing and styles of living, religion and spirituality, trajectories of wealth and poverty, artistic patronage and antiquarianism.

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