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Modern Europe and Its Others: Jews, Muslims, Blacks


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: Marc Volovici
  • Assessment: a 5000-5500-word essay (100%)

Module description

Europeans have long defined themselves through a counter-image of an emblematic ‘other’: the Jew, the Muslim, the black. Twentieth-century political ideologies sought to rethink, reject or reinvent ideas on what it means to be European. How did liberals, socialists and nationalists engage with Europe’s religious and racial minorities? How central are ideas of an ‘internal threat’ to the modern nation-state? When and where did members of different minorities form political alliances, and how, when and why did such alliances fail? How did racist politics affect the political culture of minority groups? In this course we will investigate the place of Jews, Muslims, and blacks - real and imagined ones - in twentieth-century European politics and political thought. We will consider the entanglements between different types of prejudice in modern European history and the different forms of anti-racist thought and politics since the late nineteenth century to this day.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Legacies of tolerance and prejudice
  • Immigration: beggars, radicals, aliens
  • Socialism and its others
  • Imperial breakdown and ethnic nationalism
  • War and genocide
  • Understanding racism after the Holocaust
  • De-colonization and democracy
  • Anti-racist alliances
  • Antisemitism, islamophobia, racism: twenty-first-century disputes

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand major historiographical debates in twentieth-century European history
  • compare and contrast the approaches used by scholars to the history and memory of racial and religious minorities in twentieth-century Europe, and to understand the reasons for difference
  • handle primary sources with confidence and demonstrate the ability to use them as a means of evaluating current paradigms
  • understand how and why the history of racism and religious persecution in popular memory across different countries has changed
  • understand the origins of current concerns regarding antisemitism, racism and nationalism.