This conference deals with the Muslim and Jewish experiences in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union from the 1860s until the 1920s. Numerous excellent studies in recent years have enhanced our understanding of the Jewish-Russian as well as the Muslim-Russian historical encounter. The conference intends to bring together specialists from both fields to allow a comparative approach to the history of these groups who shared the experience of living in the Russian and Soviet states.
By taking into account the imperial as well as the early Soviet period the conference wishes to show continuities and changes between the Russian Empire and its successor state. It will focus on three basic analytical questions:
1) How did the imperial and Soviet states interact with Jewish and Muslim communities? Which attitudes and ideologies shaped the policies implemented by the state?
2) How did these policies affect Jewish and Muslim communities? Which Muslim and Jewish collective identities emerged in Russia?
3) A particular fruitful point of comparison is the question of the relationship between ethnicity and religion in the case of Jews and Muslims in Russia. Can the Russian Empire be described as a “confessional state”? In what sense were religious or ethnic categories crucial for state policies? How did the new Soviet State institutionalize and in some cases “create” ethnic and national categories and how did Jews and Muslims respond to these ascriptions?
The conference will take place on June 20th/21st, 2013, in the Historisches Kolleg in Munich. It is a joint conference of the Department of Eastern and South Eastern European History (Prof. Martin Schulze Wessel) and the Department of Jewish History and Culture (Prof. Michael Brenner) at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. The conference is financed by the International Postgraduate Programme “Religious Cultures in 19th and 20th Century Europe” at the LMU Munich.