CFP: The Birth and Evolution of the Venetian Ghetto (1516–1797)

Deadline:  15 December 2015

Aula del Piovego, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy

5-6 May 2016

An international conference organized by the Medici Archive Project, Beit Venezia, and the Committee for the 500th Anniversary of the Venetian Ghetto Venice

On 29 March 1516, the Senate of the Venetian Republic established the world’s first ghetto. Relatively far from the city’s political and financial centers—but still within the urban perimeter—the area of the geto (literally “the foundry” in Venetian dialect) was originally conceived as a residence for Jews from north­eastern Europe who were obliged to observe rules of separation and socio­economic marginalization. A few decades later, Jews from the Iberian Peninsula and the Levant also living in Venice were forced to move into the Ghetto and undergo the same restrictions. In spite of the growing number of repressive measures aimed at making a clear distinction between Jews and Christians, rules and regulations set forth by the Venetian authorities were often disregarded and the Venetian Ghetto eventually went on to become a global epicenter of cultural, economic and intellectual discourse. The main aim of this conference is to draw attention to the interstices that linked (and divided) norm and praxis, in particular through addressing various interdisciplinary thematic areas. The following are some suggested research topics:

  • Material and mercantile culture
  • Diplomacy and information networks
  • Transnational Jewish identities
  • Languages and linguistic contamination
  • Scientific and medical knowledge
  • Visual and performing arts
  • Cultural brokerage and mediation
  • Books and print culture
  • Conversion, apostasy and spiritual hybridity
  • Heterodoxy, messianic culture and pseudo­Messianism
  • Rabbinical tradition and liturgy
  • Culinary culture
  • Urban and domestic spaces
  • Gender roles and identity

Prospective participants should send a 350-word abstract of a twenty-minute paper written in either English or Italian along with a two-­page CV to and by 15 December 2015.