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The Jewish Museum Berlinʼs Fellowship Program


Karen Körber speaking in front of an audience

Karen Körber at the Jewish Museum's Rosh ha-Shanah reception, 2012
© Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

With the inauguration of the Academy, the Jewish Museum has launched a new Fellowship Program for research projects involving Jewish history and culture, and the better appreciation of social and cultural diversity in Germany. We select scholars who have earned extraordinary respect in their particular fields. The first fellow of the two-year research program is Dr. Karen Körber, a sociologist.

Research Biography

Karen Körber’s most recent teaching and research post was at the Department of Social Sciences at the Goethe University, Frankfurt. She studied sociology, political science, and psychology at the University of Bremen, the Free University Berlin, and Columbia University, New York. She has been a research associate at the Institute of Sociology at the Free University Berlin, and received her doctorate from the Humboldt University of Berlin with a dissertation on her field study about the immigration of Russian-speaking Jews to East Germany in the 1990s. At the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, she followed up with a study on the effect of the migration movement on Germany’s Jewish communities. From 2008 to 2011 she conducted research at the Institute for European Ethnology/Cultural Studies at Philipps University, Marburg for the project "Transnational Familiarity." Her studies investigated the changing role of family under the present conditions of increasing global migration. The results can be read in the volume "Imagined Families in Mobile Worlds," edited by Karen Körber and Ina Merkel (Special Issue of Ethnologia Europaea, Journal of European Ethnology, vol. 42:2, 2012).

Besides her dissertation, "Juden, Russen, Emigranten. Identitätskonflikte jüdischer Einwanderer in einer ostdeutschen Stadt" (Jews, Russians, Émigrés: the Identity Conflicts of Jewish Immigrants in an East German Town), which was published by Campus in 2005, Karen Körber has published numerous articles on Jewish identity, the construction of ethnicity in the context of tension between Diaspora and nation state, as well as changes in the remembrance of the Holocaust following Russian-Jewish immigration to Germany among other themes. She is particularly interested in the empirical analysis of conflict surrounding the interpretation and significance of cultural identity.

Project: Everyday Realities. Contemporary Jewish Life in Germany

Through the Fellowship, Karen Körber continues her research on the changes in Jewish life in Germany. Her central question is how the processes of pluralization and differentiation of a modern immigrant society can be observed in the example of the local Jewish community and the challenges, conflicts and paradoxes that arise from it. The focus of the research project "Lebenswirklichkeiten. Jüdische Gegenwart in Deutschland" (Everyday Realities. Contemporary Jewish Life in Germany) is the second generation of Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants since the 1990s. Collecting data through an online survey and interviews conducted nationwide, a comprehensive portrait of a group which has diversified ethnically, religiously, and culturally will be created. The investigation focuses on education and career paths, private life and the Jewish (and other) identity patterns of the young adults. A further research question addresses the consequences of mobile and transnational forms of life for the choice of social affiliations and the practice of building community.

The project is accompanied by a colloquium at which researchers from different disciplines present their studies on contemporary Judaism. Through the investigation "Everyday Realities. Contemporary Jewish Life in Germany," the fellowship forms a link with the Academy program that connects Jewish history and present with issues of migration, interculture, and diversity. The results of the project will be presented in a concluding conference and subsequently published.

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