The Parkes Institute

About us

James Parkes' International Student movement in the 1920's

A community of scholars, archivists, librarians, students, and activists.

The Parkes Institute is the world's oldest and most wide-ranging centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages.

The Parkes Institute is a unique centre for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages. We are a community of scholars, archivists, librarians, students, and activists. The Institute is based on the life work of the Reverend Dr James Parkes (1896-1981), one of the most remarkable figures within twentieth century Christianity. Ordained by the Church of England in 1926, through his work with the International Student Service and the Student Christian Movement as early as the 1920s he campaigned against the rise of racist nationalism in Europe.

A tireless fighter against antisemitism in all forms, including from within Christianity, he helped rescue Jewish refugees during the 1930s and campaigned for the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. During the Second World War he helped found the Council of Christians and Jews and worked throughout his career in promoting religious tolerance and mutual respect.

As part of his international campaigning, he built up the Parkes Library and associated archive which transferred to the University of Southampton in 1964. It is now one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe and the only one in the world devoted to Jewish/non-Jewish relations.

Underpinned by the Parkes Library and Jewish archive collections, the Parkes Institute carries out a wide range of activities. These include teaching at undergraduate level, our internationally successful MA in Jewish History and Culture, as well as a thriving doctoral programme which currently has over twenty students attached to it. We also have a rapidly developing outreach programme which includes adult education classes and cultural days, schools and colleges visits, as well as public seminars and lectures. Our research programme is also world-renowned and covers all periods and approaches to Jewish history and culture. From 2000 to 2006 we were the beneficiaries of a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to work on a variety of projects, all of which continue, including work on maritime Jewish studies, Holocaust studies and many other areas.

The Parkes Institute is a hub of international activities and we have partnerships with many centres across the world. These have led to exchange visits as well as a series of international conferences held in Southampton and with our partners abroad. Our global reach is further extended through the Parkes Institute's publications which include three international journals - Patterns of Prejudice, Jewish Culture and History and Holocaust Studies - as well as through a monograph series in Jewish history and culture and our annual review.

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“The Parkes Institute is very much a community of scholars, students, librarians, archivists and others and it is a deeply rewarding to see how those who were former members have flourished from the foundation provided here.”

Professor Tony Kushner, Director of Parkes Institute