Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College Hosts 12th Annual International Conference on “Racism and Antisemitism,” October 10–11

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— When Hannah Arendt came to the United States as a stateless refugee, she began writing for small Jewish journals and reflected upon the similarities and differences between racism in American and antisemitism in Europe. Arendt argued that racism is an ideology like antisemitism, thereby offering a pseudo-scientific justification for violence that elevates one group at the expense of another. From The Origins of Totalitarianism to The Crises in Little Rock, Arendt’s thinking on race is controversial and has often led many to quickly dismiss her thoughts on race and antisemitism entirely. The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College’s 12th annual conference, “Racism and Antisemitism,” gathers a diverse group of thinkers to explore these oft shunned concepts in Arendt’s work in the context of our contemporary political moment, which is marked by antisemitic and racist violence.

The two-day conference takes place on Thursday, October 10 and Friday, October 11 in Olin Hall, on Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson campus. For registration information, please visit hac.bard.edu/conference2019. Speakers will discuss questions such as: What is racism? Is antisemitism a form of racism? What does anti-racism mean today? Is it antisemitic to criticize the state of Israel? Is equality possible in a world where prejudice exists? How can we respond to racist fantasies?

Featured speakers include:

Kenyon Victor Adams, multidisciplinary artist and curator; Peter Baehr, research professor in social theory, Lingnan University, Hong Kong; Étienne Balibar, emeritus professor of philosophy, University of Paris-Nanterre, and anniversary chair of contemporary European philosophy at Kingston University, London; Aliza Becker, associate fellow, Hannah Arendt Center; Kathryn Sophia Belle, associate professor of philosophy, Pennsylvania State University, and author, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question; Roger Berkowitz, academic director, Hannah Arendt Center; Robert Boyers, editor, Salmagundi, director, New York State Summer Writers Institute, and professor of English, Skidmore College; Ian Buruma, Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism, Bard College; Joy Connolly, president, American Council of Learned Societies; Deirdre d’Albertis, dean of Bard College; Lewis R. Gordon, professor of philosophy, University of Connecticut-Storrs; Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, professor of sociology and anthropology, University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis; Eric Kaufmann, professor and assistant dean of politics, Birkbeck, University of London; Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning historian, speaker, and author of Stamped From The Beginning; Jennifer Kidwell, performing artist and cocreator of the Obie Award-winning play Underground Railroad Game; Rev. Jacqui Lewis, public theologian and senior minister, Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan; John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature, Columbia University; Marwan Mohammed, sociologist, research fellow, Centre Maurice Halbwachs in Paris, and visiting scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY); Shany Mor, associate fellow, Hannah Arendt Center, and research fellow, Chaikin Center, Haifa University; Nikita Nelin, writer and winner of 2019 Dogwood Literary Prize; Emilio Rojas, multidisciplinary artist; Peter Rosenblum, professor of international law and human rights, Bard College; Batya Ungar Sargon, journalist and opinion editor, The Forward; Amy Schiller, associate fellow, Hannah Arendt Center; Adam Shatz, contributing editor, London Review of Books, and contributor, to New York Times Magazine, New York Review of Books, New Yorker, and other publications; Scott R. Sheppard, OBIE Award-winning theater artist, codirector, Lightning Rod Special, and cocreator of the Obie Award-winning play Underground Railroad Game; Allison Stanger, Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College, technology and human values senior fellow at Harvard University’s Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics, New America Cybersecurity fellow, and external professor, Santa Fe Institute; Kenneth S. Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, a program of Bard’s Human Rights Project; Mebrak Tareke, writer and a content strategy advisor; Eric K. Ward, executive director, Western States Center; Marc Weitzmann, journalist and author of 12 books, including Hate (2019), which explores the rise of antisemitism in French society; Thomas Chatterton Williams, author, Losing My Cool, and contributing writer, New York Times Magazine; Ruth Wisse, former Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and professor of comparative literature, Harvard University, and distinguished senior fellow, Tikvah Fund.


All events, unless stated otherwise, take place in Olin Hall.

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

10:00 a.m.: Introduction

Deirdre d’Albertis

10:15 a.m.: Racism and Antisemitism

Roger Berkowitz

10:30 a.m.: What is Racism?

John McWhorter

Moderator: Robert Boyers and Rev. Jacqui Lewis

11:50 a.m.: Break

Noon: How Antisemitism Animates White Nationalism

Eric Ward

Moderator: Ken Stern

1:00 p.m.: Lunch

1:15 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Breakout Sessions (OPTIONAL)

Breakout Session 1: Olin Room 203

Voices from the American Jewish Peace Archive on Israel and Antisemitism

Moderator: Aliza Becker

Breakout Session 2: Olin Room 205

Should We Retire From Race?

Moderator: Thomas Chatterton Williams

2:00 p.m.: Little Rock: Arendt and Race

Katheryn Belle and Lewis Gordon

Moderator: Roger Berkowitz

3:00 p.m.: Sins of our Fathers, deed of our Ancestors: Burden or Blessing?

Emilio Rojas

3:30 p.m.: The Underground Railroad and The Racial Imaginary

Jennifer Kidwell and Scott Sheppard

Moderator: Roger Berkowitz and Kenyon Adams

4:30 p.m.: Break

5:00 p.m.: Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration, and the Future of White Majorities

Eric Kaufmann

Moderator: Samatha Hill

6:00 p.m.: Who Needs Antisemitism?

Ruth Wisse

Moderator: Shany Mor and Batya Ungar Sargon

6:45 p.m.: Wine and Cheese Reception

Friday, October 11th, 2019

8:30 a.m.: Breakout Session (OPTIONAL) Olin Room, Room 204

An Oral History of Pittsburghers Reflecting on the Impact of the 2018 Synagogue Shooting: Meanings of October 27th

Moderators: Aliza Becker and Noah Schoen

9:30 a.m.: Introduction

Allison Stanger

9:45 a.m.: How To Be An Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi

Moderator: Allison Stanger

11:00 a.m. Racism and Zionism: Black and Jewish Relations

Rev. Jacqui Lewis, Batya Ungar Sargon, and Anne Seaton

Moderator: Amy Schiller

12:30 p.m.: The Great Replacement

Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, Adam Shatz, Marwan Mohammed, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and Marc Weitzmann

Moderator: Ian Buruma

1:30 p.m.: Lunch

1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Breakout Sessions (OPTIONAL)

Breakout Session 1: OLIN Room 204

Expanded Epistemologies and the Art of Disinvention

Kenyon Adams and Mebrak Tareke

Breakout Session 2: OLIN Room 205

Both-Sideism: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Other People’s Opinions in the Age of Trump

Batya Ungar Sargon

Breakout Session 3: Olin Hall Auditorium

Transforming Hate—A Perspective Leap

Nikita Nelin

2:30 p.m.: What is the New Racism?

Étienne Balibar

Moderator: Roger Berkowitz

3:30 p.m.: Are “They” Us?: The Intellectuals’ Role in Creating Division

Peter Baehr

Moderator: Peter Rosenblum

4:15 p.m.: Can We “Retire” from Race?

Thomas Chatterton Williams in discussion with Bard students

Moderator: Joy Connolly

5:30 p.m.: Wine and Cheese Reception


The Hannah Arendt Center and Fisher Center at Bard Present:



by Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R. Sheppard with Lightning Rod Special

Directed by Taibi Magar

Produced by Octopus Theatricals

Good morning, America! Welcome to Hanover Middle School, where a pair of teachers are getting down and dirty with today’s lesson. The nimble duo goes round after round on the mat of our nation’s history, tackling race, sex, and power in this R-rated, kaleidoscopic, and fearless comedy. Lauded around the world and in the New York Times as “one of the best new American plays of the last 25 years,” Underground Railroad Game welcomes back Jennifer Kidwell, last seen in SummerScape 2016’s Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed.

Underground Railroad Game contains sexually explicit material, strong language, and mature themes and is recommended for adventurous audiences ages 18 and up.


October 9–12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Fisher Center’s LUMA Theater. For more information or tickets, please click here or call 845-758-7900.

Arendt Center conferences are attended by nearly a thousand people and reach an international audience via live webcast. Past speakers have included maverick inventor Ray Kurzweil; whistleblower Edward Snowden; irreverent journalist Christopher Hitchens; businessman Hunter Lewis; authors Teju Cole, Zadie Smith, Masha Gessen, and Claudia Rankine; Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Russell Mead; and political activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Previous conferences have explored citizenship and disobedience, crises of democracy, the intellectual roots of the economic crisis, the future of humanity in an age increasingly dominated by technology, the crisis in American education, and American exceptionalism. The Arendt Center’s 13th annual conference, “Revitalizing Democracy: from Sortition to Federalism,” will take place October 15–16, 2020.

For a full conference schedule and bios of featured speakers, please visit hac.bard.edu/conference2019. For more information or answers to questions about the conference, please contact [email protected]

This post is republished here with permission from the author.


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