Scheda insegnamento

  • Docente Maura De Bernart

  • Crediti formativi 8

  • SSD SPS/07

  • Modalità didattica Convenzionale - Lezioni in presenza

  • Lingua di insegnamento Inglese

  • Orario delle lezioni dal 25/09/2017 al 14/12/2017

Anno Accademico 2017/2018

Conoscenze e abilità da conseguire

Students are expected to achieve a sound overview of the social, cultural and political role played by Jews in the Slavonic environment and particularly in Russia/Soviet Union, through the comparison of sources (documents, texts, and novels) as well as of the long history of multireligious coexistence in Central Eastern Europe and the Balkans, providing instruments for the analysis of the "civilization fracture" due to Shoah, favouring critical abilities oriented towards the prevention of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and other genocides. Moreover students are expected to develop serious thinking on religious and political problems in Eastern Europe, by engaging in reflection on appreciation for religious traditions different from their own. Additionally, students will learn how to challenge their own presuppositions regarding the intersection of religion, culture, and politics in an East European context.


Specifically, the first part of the course is devoted to Jewish Life and Shoah in central Eastern Europe, and will outline the rich history of Judaism in the concerned societies, in relation to Christianism and Islam, as well as to other religions, from the XVI century on, compared with Western Europe and the whole Mediterranean region. Focus will be on the relation between religious faiths, empires and emerging nation-states, considering changes in structure and meanings and stressing both interfaith relations and ruptures (from the millet to the shtetl, from ghetto to pogromi...), with reference to the different political actors and phases. In 2017-18 special attention will be paid to the influence of religion and faith in undergoing and surviving (or not) Shoah and other genocides, and on how the knowledge and memories of all this are (or are not) transmitted through generations, and are (or are not) appropriated by younger ones.
When dealing with World War I, focus will be on secularization, modern antisemitism and phenomena of mass nationalization, while the interwar period and World War II will be dealt with in terms of "civilization fracture", focussing on relations between war, total war and genocide; on the destruction of European Jews (Shoah); on the Porrajmos (genocide of Roma and Sinti) and on the larger Nazi genocide; on Jewish resistance and  resistance and righteousness among believers and non-believers.  Subsequently, Stalinism will be dealt with, discussing its comparability in the perspective of R. Aron.  Specific cases will assessed, to be chosen with the students, also according to their provenance and interests.
Different post-war and post-Holocaust (Shoah) histories and memories will be accounted for, starting with the long processes which led to  the birth of the State of Israel and accounting for socio-religious change, in Europe, in Israel and elsewhere,  including new forms of martyrdom, up to 1989 and later, and the new pseudo-martyrdom of violent terrorisms (very different in Europe at large and in the Western world with respect to the situation in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia).
The course will focus on the socio-religious transitions which anticipated and accompanied the changes around 1989; and on the post-transitional times, in Wstern/Eastern Europe and around the Mediterranean, up to recent ones (in which religions, nations, minorities, tribes and states re-emerge in new configurations and meanings in a changing world, in complex conflicts and interrelations and dialogues, along with the vicissitudes of European unification, of democracy and of the processes of globalization). Two main challenges - relevant for a common future of humanity - will be taken into account, namely those of memory and reconciliation.
In the end, the unique civilization of modernity (as distinguished from secularization) and living together will be dealt with against the specific theme of war and genocide (with reference to the Armenian genocide,  to Shoah and the Nazi genocide at large, but also other genocides and genocidal massacres such as Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia, and the more recent ones occurring in Syria and Iraq but also to minorities in Birmania, Pakistan and elsewhere). The role of religions will be considered, as catalysts of conflict or rather channels of dialogue, conflict resolution and peace-building.
Specific cases of nowadays missing conscience of social links, discrimination, abuse and hate crimes will be dealt with searching for both critical knowledge and possibilities of prevention, solidarity and capacity of living together. Materials . written and video - will be made available from Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel; USHMM, Washington; Yahad-in-Unum and others.


Alexander, J. (2009), Remembering the Holocaust. A Debate, Oxford University Press    Bauer, Y (2000)  Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale University Press
Courbage, Y., E. Todd (2007), Le rendez-vous des civilisations, Seuil, Paris
Coward, H., G. Smith, eds. (2004), Religions and Peacebuilding, State University of New York Press
Dawidowicz, L., ed. (1968), The Golden tradition: Jewish Thought and Life in Eastern Europe, Beacon Press, Boston
Eisenstadt, S. (1982), The Axial Age, European Journal of Sociology, 23 (2), 294-314
Fein, H. (1979), Accounting for Genocide, The Free Press, New York-London
Friedlander, S. (2 volls., 1997-2007) Nazi Germany and the Jews, Harper-Collins, New York   
Hilberg, R. (2003), The Destruction of European Jews, Yale University Press
Riccardi, A. (2008), Living Together, New City

(Other texts and essays to be assessed together with students at the beginning of the course)

Metodi didattici

The course is articulated around Y. Bauer's text/context approach (namely, the idea of Shoah as a text to be read in the different contexts of war, other genocides, human rights) and follows S. Friedlander's method of integrated history, aiming at enlarging it to sociology and other social sciences, retaining it in the terms of D. Cesarani as both an integrated and an integrative approach. All sorts of instruments are hence used, from documents to photos, from videos to video-conferences. A special attention is paid to class discussions, eventually in working groups.

Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

The initial questionnaire(s) to assess the meaning attributed by students from different backgrounds to main concepts are NOT conceived as evalutaion tools, though they can help the students themselves to assess their knowledge and systems of meanings, eventually also through class discussion. At the end of the first part of the course there will be an intermediate written exam, consisting of three open questions among which the students will have to choose and answer the one they prefer, plus a fourth optional question. The results will be published, and the students can discuss them with the teacher. At the end of the course, the students are required to write an essay (12-15 pages) on a topic they will have chosen and assessed with the teacher during the second part of the course. The final evaluation will take into account the results of the intermediate exam and of the final essay. Students who want, can also ask for a further final oral exam.

Strumenti a supporto della didattica

A few basic texts are indicated here. Other texts and essays will be indicated after having assessed with the students, at the beginning of the course, the specific histories and cases to be dealt with. At the beginning of the course, also, some short questionnaires will be proposed, according to emerging needs, to assess the meanings attributed by students from different backgrounds to the main concepts used in the course, and make up a sort of common vocabulary. Moreover, part of the class dialogue will be carried on around videos and video-conferences, and seminars and if possible visits will be organized (for the Day of Memory, around January 27;visit to Marzabotto-Montesole, Piangipane War Cemetery etc.). Materials . written and video - will be made available from Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel; USHMM, Washington; Yahad-in-Unum and others.

Orario di ricevimento

Consulta il sito web di Maura De Bernart