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The Parkes Institute

Research themes

Our research ranges from the Ancient World through the 20th century and into the present.

Ancient World

Our research into the Ancient World ranges from the Hellenistic and Roman periods to the emergence of Islam and across the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. 

We have a particular interest in the interpretation of the Bible in different contexts from Philo of Alexandria to the traditions of the rabbis, and address the question of relations through examining connectivity and encounter between Jews and non-Jews.


Migration, whether voluntary or forced, is part of what it is to be human. This is especially so in the case of the Jewish experience from antiquity through to the twenty first century. 

Jews as migrants, including as refugees, is a theme that runs through all the approaches and chronologies of the Parkes Institute, promoting research and outreach work that is comparative and always relevant.

The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the defining experience of Jewish people in the twentieth-century. This was most obviously the case for those directly affected, but its historical presence looms large over the study of modern relations between Jews and non-Jews more widely. 

A key aspect of the work of the Parkes Institute lies in research into antisemitism, the unfolding of the Holocaust, and its impact on both Jews and others during and after the destruction.

Jewish/non-Jewish encounters and relations in Early Modern and Modern times

This research area focuses on the cultural, political, spatial, and economic history of Jewish life from the early modern period to the present day, with a particular interest in encounters and relations between Jewish communities and neighbouring cultures and in the different forms of settlement that have been created in these processes. 

This includes studies on the Sephardic communities in Mediterranean port cities, the emergence of centres of Jewish life and culture in Central and Eastern Europe (Minsk, Warsaw, Prague, Berlin) to the transnational experiences of German-Jewish and Eastern European-Jewish migrants in the UK, in the United States, in South Africa, in Australia, and in Israel/Palestine.

Jewish culture, literature and art

Throughout much of their long history as a religious people, Jews often found the space for their imaginative lives between the lines of their sacred texts. For the modern, emancipated and increasingly secular Jew, however, new opportunities for creativity emerged. The modernist movement not only foregrounded the work of many Jews, but it was also frequently associated with a ‘Jewish’ or ‘diasporic’ sensibility. 

Following the devastation of World War II, Jewish writers, artists and philosophers were forced to confront the world ‘after Auschwitz’. Our research in this area focuses on the Jewish contribution to culture, cultural transfers between Jews and non-Jews and whether there are specifically Jewish forms of philosophy, literature, music, and art.

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