Conference to examine how extremist groups fuel racism, antisemitism

The conference “Racism, Antisemitism, and the Radical Right,” taking place at Yale Sept. 10-11, coincides with the national conversation about white supremacist groups in the United States, while also exploring the international dimensions of a phenomenon that has been gaining momentum over the past decade.

The event, which also serves as the fifth annual Conference of the International Consortium for Research on Antisemitism and Racism, is organized by the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism; the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration; and the Whitney Humanities Center. Yale historian Timothy Snyder and sociologist Howard Winant of the University of California-Santa Barbara will deliver keynotes.

Stephen Pitti, professor of history and American studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, emphasized that broad support from “many Yale faculty members interested in contemporary politics helped to bring together two dozen leading scholars from around the world working to understand recent manifestations of racism and antisemitism.”

The conference is made possible by a generous grant from the Knapp Family Foundation and the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund. It is co-sponsored by Yale Divinity School; the Office of the Dean of the Yale Law School; the MacMillan Center and its Councils on African Studies, European Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies; the Departments of African American Studies, American Studies, French, History, Italian, Judaic Studies, Religious Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Sociology, Spanish and Portuguese; the Humanities Program; the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; the Gruber Fellowships in Global Justice and Women’s Rights; and the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School.

Our goal in this conference is to look at the issue of antisemitism and racism on the far right in a broad and global way,” notes Maurice Samuels, the Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French and director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism. “At least half of the papers at the conference will focus on far-right groups in Europe and elsewhere. We are interested in what features these groups in different national contexts share and what makes them unique or different.”

We aim to take advantage of Yale’s strengths in many related academic areas,” Pitti added. “We hope that the students and scholars in attendance will learn from one another, sharing insights gained from different research methodologies in the social sciences and humanities.”

Reflecting on current events in the United States, Samuels highlighted other recent academic events at Yale that have focused on issues related to racism and antisemitism across the political spectrum, including talks organized by the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism focusing on antisemitism coming from the Muslim world and from their supporters on the far left. “This is, in fact,” Samuels explained, “our program’s first conference in recent years that looks at the political right.” And he stressed the importance of recognizing that conservative individuals and organizations have often opposed right-wing extremists. “There have been, of course, many politicians on the right around the world who have stood up to these factions and denounced them in no uncertain terms,” he noted.

The conference will take place in the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall St., beginning on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 10, and concluding on the evening of Monday, Sept. 11. A program of speakers and topics is available on the conference website.

The event is open to the public free of charge, but those who wish to attend must register in advance.

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