The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events

Thursday, 27 May 2021, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg

Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Fellow colloquium

Till van Rahden (Senior Fellow)
»When, How, and Why Did Jews Become a ›Minority‹? Remapping Differences in Central Europe since 1815«

The conceptual couple of majority/minority is viewed as a harmless way of identifying an arithmetic relationship. The idea of a dichotomy between majority and (Jewish) minority as a short hand to describe relations between ethnic or religious groups, however, is recent. In fact, as this paper suggests, it did not exist before 1919 when in the wake of World War I the idea of democracy and the idea of the homogeneous nation-state triumphed simultaneously. Prior to 1919, languages of diversity invoked embedded concepts that referred to specific constellations of difference, such as colony or community, churches, nations, races, or tribes. The opposition of majority and minority introduced a level of abstraction into struggles over recognition. »Minority rights« for Jews and others became a miracle cure in such conflicts and seemed to offer a universal formula promising an efficacious remedy.

The speaker
Till van Rahden teaches modern and recent history at the Université de Montréal. From 2006 to 2016 he held the Canada Research Chair in German and European Studies at the Université de Montréal. He specializes in European history since the Enlightenment and is interested in the tension between the elusive promise of democratic equality and the recurrent presence of diversity and moral conflicts.
Since 2021 he is a non-resident senior fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften.

Participation and registration
Closed online event. Please register in advance. Contact: Beate Sutterlüty (

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