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Marranism and Western-European Modernity

Final Report Summary - EUMAR (Marranism and Western-European Modernity)

The project „Marranism and Western-European Modernity” (EuMAR) has a particular approach to European history in modern times, analysing the mode of Jewish existence within this frame. The methodology is innovative and makes use of an exceptional reading of the issue. It is about the specific application of the concept of the Marrano, the secret Jew. The Marrano does not represent something alien to European culture – and religious traditions – but is commonly assumed to be “the Other within” (Yirmiyahu Yovel) this culture. The thesis of the project EuMAR is that the Marrano is a central feature at the origin of European multicultural complexities, complexities which were augmented in the so-called post-emancipation period (after 1789). The construction of a European, trans-national Jewish identity, especially a secular identity, becomes evident. Moreover, a complex texture of “multiple modernities” (Shmuel N. Eisenstadt) within the very core of Western modernity is recognizable trough the prism of a Marrano paradigm.
Furthermore, the backbone of the project EuMAR is that it delves into history, in particular the history of the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), i.e. Cultural Enlightenment and Europeanisation, as well as its reception in Western Europe, mainly in France, Italy and in the German speaking countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turning point of the 19th century.

Dr. Paola Ferruta's work at Paris Sorbonne University together with Prof. Dominique Bourel, Prof. Esther Benbassa (Jewish History, history of Sephardic Jews) and Prof. Denis Crouzet (religious and political history, gender history) enhanced her scientific skills and will help her to reach a professional position in the future. The team-work with this singular combination of experts on Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews as well as on social, gender and cultural history represents a consequential step towards a scientific and professional accomplishment. Moreover, the trans-nationally and Europe-oriented Centre Roland Mousnier is a suitable framework to complement Dr. Ferruta’s academic experience.


Main results achieved:

1. Dr. Ferruta prepared a special issue of the renowned scientific journal “Histoire, Economie & Societé”, whose title is: Between Judaism and Christianity: Conversions in Europe from the 16th to the 20th Century. Outstanding European and extra-European researches wrote their articles for this issue which will be released in December 2014. To this aim, she met several times Mrs Isabelle Dasque, Maître de conférences at Paris-Sorbonne University and Editor-in-Chief of the journal, and discussed the table of contents of the special issue with her.
2. The researcher built a successful working team (comité d'organisation) with Prof. Dominique Bourel, Prof. Daniel Tollet, an expert in Polish Jewish History, and Dr. Martin Dumont, secretary of the Institut de recherches pour l’étude des religions (I.R.E.R.) at Paris-Sorbonne University in order to organise an international conference Between Judaism and Christianity: conversions in Europe from the modern era to the emergence of political anti-Semitism. in October 2013.
3. The proceedings of the conferences will be published in 2015 at very prestigious French publishing house Honoré de Champion. The working team meets regularly at Maison de la Recherche and at Paris-Sorbonne University to keep in contact with the authors and the publishing house.
4. Dr. Ferruta also obtained additional funding (by I.R.E.R. École doctorale 2 de l'Université Paris-Sorbonne, Comité Scientifique de l'université Paris Sorbonne, Société de études juives, I.R.C.O.M et Laboratoire d'Excellence ENEX) for this international publication and the organization of the conference "Between Judaism and Christianity: conversions in Europe from the modern era to the emergence of political anti-Semitism". The funding have been paid during the second year of her Marie Curie fellowship.
5. Dr. Ferruta presented her research results at the World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem, 28.7.-1.8.2013).

These objectives are very important with regard to European excellence in historical research and also with reference to present academic and political debates on the extension of Europe and its global challenges.
Furthermore, the challenges and the final results of the project EuMAR will provide the opportunity for a future research that the researcher intends to conduct considering Marranism and new Marranism within a broader period of time, the longue durée. She will with the help of the digital humanities to implement and spread this new theoretical frame beyond the academic world.