Casa Shalom
Institute for Marrano-Anusim Studies
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Marranos

 

Academic conference on the Jews and Freemasonry

April 9-10, 2002. Casa Shalom Institute for Anusim Studies, Gan Yavne

Background

The Gan Yavneh Institute for Marrano-Anusim Studies holds a unique and expanding range of records and contacts relating to the Jewish links and traditions of Marrano families all over the world.

Sheffield University's Centre for Research into Freemasonry was set up to undertake and promote objective scholarly research into the historical, social and cultural impact of freemasonry.

There is much potential overlap between these research interests. Over the past two centuries, crypto-Jews within Spain have from time to time found involvement with masonic groups a valuable element of their defensive strategy; in the various receptor countries of Marrano migration, freemasonry could offer secular networks for advancement and integration. The nature of these involvements needs to be further explored and defined (with possible contrasts emerging between one country or set of circumstances and another. In particular, there is a need to assess the scale on which the phenomenon occurs: is it such as to justify a doctoral or postdoctoral project, or some larger programme? The projected meeting in Gan Yavneh is seen as an essential step in finding out.

Aims

To acquaint a strategic group of British and Spanish scholars with the work and resources of the Gan Yavneh Institute.
To assess the potential scope for research collaboration on the general theme of "Marranos and Masons" and to identify the main research questions in this field.
To suggest a programme of research which might exploit the respective strengths and resources of the Gan Yavneh Institute and the Sheffield Centre for Research into Freemasonry, as well as current scholarship in Spain.
To offer younger scholars possibilities of developing a research career in this area.

Participation: A working group of about 15-25 is envisaged: 5-10 from the UK; 2-5 from Spain; circa 10 from Israel. A wider local attendance at talks from visiting speakers would be welcomed (subject to space).

Identified participation based on expressions of interest thus far elicited would include:

Date, place and programme

The dates for the conference are 9th-10th April 2002.

There will be three key elements in the programme:

  1. An introduction to the Gan Yavneh Institute by its Director, Mrs Mound, followed by a "hands on" opportunity for visitors to explore some of the materials there.
  2. A business meeting to identify future lines of research and concrete projects (especially for doctoral or postdoctoral programmes, and for international collaboration).
  3. Scholarly papers on a range of themes in the "Marranos and Masons" field.

It is envisaged that the workshop would begin on the Monday evening and end on the Wednesday morning. A very tentative outline of the programme might be:

TimeSubject
Andrew PrescottMilitary freemasonry in English-occupied Menorca
Victoriano Seoane PascuchiMarranos y masones en la isla de Menorca
Gloria MoundIntroduction to the Gan Yavneh Institute followed by hands on work with some of the materials there
Dr Yitzchak KeremThe Nazi Preoccupation with Freemasonry amongst the Sephardic Jews and Other Sectors of Society
José Luis Rodríguez JiménezEl discurso antisemita y antimasónico durante el régimen de Franco

This should achieve a relevant balance of familiarization with Gan Yavneh, academic input and time for informal contacts, leading to a purposive discussion and definition of "next steps".

Budgeting and support

There will be a need to bring some 15 people from the UK or Spain to Israel and to meet their local travel and living expenses for two days. It can be assumed that senior academics will apply for these, as for other research expenses, to their own institutions, but younger scholars may not be so fortunately placed.

There will also be day-to-day expenses for about ten active Israeli participants (some of which, again, may be met by institutions on the spot).. The Gan Yavneh Institute itself, wholly dependent as it is on voluntary donations, may incur some organizational costs (e.g. for a part-time Conference Secretary).

At this distance, it is hard to quantify much of this. I am informed by Mrs Mound that the municipality of Gan Yavneh is willing to negotiate advantageous rates for travel and accommodation (though the latter has to be at some distance, and minibus hire will be a further item of expense). Any calculations which follow, then, are highly provisional.

One welcome item, however, is firm already: the Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East have agreed to support the attendance of two young researchers from the UK, on condition that these are either Hispanists or Historians, planning careers in the academic world, and disposed in principle to consider making the Judeo-Spanish field their focus of research interest.

These, then are the notional sums which would be needed to fund the event in full:

*The Travel/Maintenance figure and the final total are certainly reducible by the unit-costs of any visitors who can get funding from their own institutions: a reasonable estimate would be that at least four or five overseas visitors would come into that category. A rounded figure of £5000, then, ought to represent the maximum cost of the Workshop, and it is this figure or support towards it which is now being sought. by Gloria Mound and Andrew Prescott from Jewish and masonic sources respectively

It would, of course, be within the discretion proper to any donor to determine how any grant should be administered, but both the participating institutions have arrangements in place to receive and account for such funding.

Those interested in proposing lecture topics please contact:

Prof. Nicholas Round
Department of Hispanic Studies
Sheffield University
Sheffield
United Kingdom.
Or, by email: n.g.round@sheffield.ac.uk or, by completing our contact/membership form.
Last updated: 29 Jan, 2007
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