Call for Papers | “Jewish Sports in/and the Metropolis“ | Conference in Vienna, 14–15 March 2016

Béla Guttmann playing for Hakoah Vienna (Source: Wiki Creative Commons)
Béla Guttmann playing for Hakoah Vienna (Source: Wiki Creative Commons)

By reconstructing the urban social field of sport during the interwar period as a site of identity politics, the conference addresses the history and importance of Jewish sports in different major European cities. Beginning with the establishment of sports as part of mass culture after the Great War, the main focus lies in the public assessment and self-positioning of Jews committed to sports. This includes Jewish athletes as well as the large number of those who held positions in sports and gymnastic clubs as officials. It will be asked, how “Jewishness” as a category was constructed in the different urban settings. What role did the athletes’ and officials’ involvement in sports play with regard to the negotiation of “Jewish Difference” and the universalistic projects of emancipation connected to it, in the context of religion, Zionism, politics and “assimilation”? How was a “non-Jewish society” positioned on the basis of what ascriptions to the “Jewish” as the other, and in which interactions could these respective changing constructions be found?

We invite papers that focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics, which are neither prescriptive nor comprehensive:

    • the significance of sports as means of identification and self-assertion of Jews – esp. with regard to ascriptions by the public
    • the importance and potential of sports with regard to the participation in – and the integration into – the society and the public (sports) discourse
    • the significance and the impact of different mechanisms of exclusion (“Aryan Paragraphs”), or anti-Semitic debates and conflicts
    • the social and political orientation of sports clubs and associations and their meanings in the media and the public
    • questions of “Jewish Difference“ with regard to sports
    • case studies of individual athletes, sports officials or teams
    • Jewish sports in the context of gender, class and migration
    • differences and conflicts between the varied teams and individuals characterized as “Jewish“
    • cultural topographies of Jewish sports in specific urban localizations
    • similarities, differences and singularities in the work of Jewish sports officials compared to active athletes
    • concepts of “muscle Jews“ (Muskeljuden) in sports, esp. in relation to the gymnastics movement

The aim is to provide an international setting for discussing similarities and differences in urban Jewish sports through its various facets.

The conference committee welcomes abstracts of 200-250 words for 15-20 minute presentations. Please send your abstract and a brief biography to jsovienna(at)

The Deadline for the abstract is October 15, 2015.

Applicants will be informed in October. In order to give the respondents enough time to prepare, participants are asked to submit papers by February 2016 to the organizers.

Organized by the University of Applied Arts Vienna / University of Vienna. Contact Info:
Sema Colpan/ Bernhard Hachleitner
Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien
Vordere Zollamtsstraße 3 Mezz.
1030 Wien

Contact Email:
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