Call for Papers: Jewish Business Dynasties 1850-1950: Family, Power, Vulnerability

Château de Seneffe, Belgium

September 19-20, 2022

Organised by Professor Abigail Green, Professor Chris McKenna, Professor Rebecca Kobrin, and Dr Jaclyn Granick

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Château de Seneffe, Belgium

This conference will consider the economic, social, cultural and political role of the great international Jewish business dynasties and the critical part they played in the making of modern capitalism in an age of rising antisemitism that culminated in genocide. It will bring together business historians and Jewish historians for two days at the Château de Seneffe ( outside of Brussels (Charleroi), on September 18-19 (Sunday-Monday), 2022. The built heritage of the château and an exploration of its Philippson banking dynasty past will be an integral part of the conference.

We are now inviting abstracts for 20-minute individual papers to be presented within panels. Panels will be organised around the following themes: family, heritage, business dynasties, power and vulnerability, and potentially the Philippsons themselves. Global and gender perspectives are welcome within any panel, as are comparative angles, whether between Jews and other groups or in terms of different geographical/ national contexts. 

In the family panel we would like to explore kinship, generations, global links, relationship to place, gender, and philanthropy. The business dynasty panel will feature business historians approaching the issue by industry, such as by exploring Jewish business dynasties within the diamond industry, department stores/retail, or journalism/media, and who work across business dynasties rather than approaching the subject by family case study. The power and vulnerability panel might discuss Jewish country houses as assets, business dynasties and the Holocaust (including its aftermath), why Jewish country houses were typically associated with banking families, the rhetoric of antisemitism and Jewish business dynasties, or Jewish business dynasties in popular culture. A Philippson panel might look at different facets of this understudied business dynasty in whose former house we will be convening, and we will also hear from heritage professionals and public historians who work at the former country houses of Jewish business dynasties. There will be the opportunity to visit another such property in Brussels for those who are interested on the third day.

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Mathilde Mayer, Franz Philippson and their grandchild

Confirmed speakers include the organisers, Sasha Goldstein Sabbah, Cyril Grange, Luisa Levi D’Ancona Modena, Susie Pak, and Matthias Lehmann. The conference is expected to result in an edited volume, for which all contributors will be expected to engage directly in the themes of the conference and revise accordingly. We are interested in hearing from researchers in a variety of career stages and with different kinds of affiliations and home locations. Reasonable travel and accommodation will be covered. 

Please submit your proposal with title, panel(s) of interest, abstract of no more than 300 words, and a short bio/CV in one pdf or doc to by 5 January, 2022.