Jewish Intellectuals in a Postcolonial Age: Elias, Auerbach, and Cassirer

Thu February 22nd 2024, 4:00 - 5:30pm
Event Sponsor
Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
Taube Center for Jewish Studies
Building 360
Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), 450 Jane Stanford Way Building 360, Stanford, CA 94305
Conference Room

In this talk, Barbara Buchenau (University of Duisburg-Essen) discusses the way three major Jewish thinkers address conceptual concerns of postcolonial studies in potentially decolonial ways. Exiled by German antisemitism and national socialism, Erich Auerbach, Norbert Elias and Ernst Cassirer address problems of relationality in three domains: a war-faring society, the imagination, and symbolic action. Read together, they present an engaged figural theory about the interdependencies that emerge whenever influential speakers script new connections by restating observations across geographical and temporal contexts.


Buchenau is Professor of North American Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. Her most recent publications include three co-authored chapters on religious conversion and racial ambiguation (in Ambiguität und Unterscheidung: Kaleidoskopische Betrachtungen, edited by Benjamin Scheller and Marcel Müllerburg, 2024), the co-edited book City Scripts: Narratives of Postindustrial Urban Futures (OSUP, 2023) and Narrative in Urban Planning: A Practical Field Guide (co-authored with Lieven Ameel and Jens Martin Gurr, 2023). She served as Vice-Rector of Social Responsibility, Diversity and International Affairs at her institution (2018 – 2022), and has directed the inter-university graduate research group Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions funded by the Volkswagen Foundation (2018 – 2023).