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AAJS (Australian Association for Jewish Studies) 2018: By the Rivers of Babylon: Memory, Emotion and Jews

Location: Perth, 
Date(s) of Event: 2/11/2018 - 2/12/2018
Deadline for Submission: 8/1/2017


Keynoters include the Hon. Rev. Dr Lynn Arnold AO (former premier of South Australia) and Professor Jaky Troy (University of Sydney)
Psalm 132 is perhaps the paradigmatic text for the interplay of memory and emotion in the construction of both Jewish history and the Jewish self. The psalmist lays the groundwork for the depiction and understanding of exile, and provides the paradigm for over 2000 years of fears, anxieties, hopes and aspirations, which for some culminates in the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. This paradigm corresponds with the messianic hopes, which emphasize the optimistic future rather than the tragic present or past.

While memory and emotion have shaped the discourse about the Holocaust, and equally become significant reference points for reading Jewish history as a whole, they, particularly emotion, have been relatively de-emphasized in both rabbinic discussions of Halacha and academic analyses of Jewish rituals and practices. Even Jewish Mystical speculation is largely presented in a rationalist mode. Hasidism, is perhaps the primary exception to this pattern; this is specifically found in the Baal Shem Tov's rejection of the basis of the rabbinic system of his time, with a concomitant focus on emotion rather than reason as the fundamental basis of religious experience. Arguably, HaBad has provided a mechanism for moving Hasidic discourse back towards emphasis on reason.

Geography, particularly Zion, has been a consistent focus for memory and emotion expressed in longing. This trope is first expressed in the quotation from Psalms, it is also the heart and power of the poetry of Yehuda HaLevi. The importance of place is the heart of modern Zionism, and is one of the most significant motivators in modern Jewish life and thought.

This Australian Association for Jewish Studies (AAJS) conference, to take place in Perth, Western Australia on 11-12 February 2018, seeks to redress the absence of these tropes in the understanding of Jewish practice and law, as well as exemplifying its importance in aspects of Jewish thought and historical experience; it also seeks to provide a forum for wider discussions of memory and emotions as they touch on all aspects of Judaism.

AAJS 2018 Perth, entitled "By the Rivers of Babylon: Memory, Emotion and Jews", will provide a trans-disciplinary forum for addressing perspicaciously both memory and emotion -- both providing a basis for challenging and understanding their implications. It also seeks from the opposite direction to reassess our understanding of Judaism by resorting to general theories of memory and emotion. We hope that AAJS 2018 Perth would act as an epistemological bridge, as an antidote for parallel discourses surrounding Memory, Emotion and Jews.

Proposed papers can look at the theme from any angle, for example psychological, linguistic, philosophical, anthropological, theological, musical, political, biological, historical, cross-cultural. Papers on other topics would be considered too.

Would you please submit your 250-word abstract BY 1 August 2017 to (Subject: AAJS 2018 Perth Abstract).

Notice of acceptance will be sent out by 1 September 2017.

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