Curating Memory, Mapping Families | Upcoming Working Group Meeting

The working group on mapping diasporas is resuming its monthly meetings for the Spring Semester. Meetings involve the exploration of theoretical issues, collaborative collection research  (based on the holdings of The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life), and the critical examination of digital tools and platforms.

The first meeting of the semester will include:

  1. Curating Memory: Theoretical Approaches to Diasporic Culture, led by Cindy Nguyen, PhD candidate in History at UC Berkeley
  2. Research on ketubbot (Jewish marriage contracts) in The Magnes Collection: these manuscripts, which are often painted or otherwise decorated, include a unique form of geolocation, intersecting toponyms and references to bodies of water (rivers, seas, oceans).
  3. A close look at Footprints (also on Facebook): an online platform created to trace “the history and movement of Jewish books since the inception of print.”

Looking forward to the engaging discussions!


Curating Memories, Mapping Families | Adrian Daub Talks about the Mendelssohns

The Working Group on Mapping Diasporas (a project of the Townsend Center Working Group on Modern Jewish Culture) is delighted to co-sponsor a talk by Professor Adrian Daub (Stanford University).

The Mendelssohns, The Piano, and the Making of the Domestic Sphere

Presented in the context of The Mendelssohn Project
Wednesday February 17, 2016 5 to 7 PM
Thanks to its prominence, its wealth and its place at the center of intellectual and cultural life, the Mendelssohn family provides a privileged window into the formation of domestic culture in nineteenth century Germany. But the story of the Mendelssohns not only reflects changes in domestic culture and the understanding of privacy, the family helped inaugurate and shape them – often by musical means. This talk will examine questions of privacy and publicity from Moses Mendelssohn’s writings on musical aesthetics, to the music created by his famous grandchildren Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Fanny Mendelssohn (later Hensel).


Adrian Daub is Associate Professor of German Studies at Stanford University. He is the author of Uncivil Unions: The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism (2012), Tristan’s Shadow: Sexuality and the Total Work of Art (2013), and Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth-Century Culture (2014). He has also published on fin-de-siècle German opera, the films of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, literature and scandal, nineteenth-century ballads, and writers such as Novalis, Stefan George, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and W. G. Sebald.

More here.

Mapping California with Yiddish Books. An Undergraduate Digital Humanities Project at The Magnes

JWeekly just published an article about a fascinating Digital Humanities project developed at The Magnes with an undergraduate student, Erin Faigin (in the context of the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, directed by Francesco Spagnolo). 

The projects brings together Yiddish books, bibliographical tools, history (including “hyper-local” history), metadata, and of course maps, including the platform, Findery

Erin Faigin recently gave a wonderful public talk in the context of the Magnes’ PopUp Exhibition Series, illustrating the project.

Read more here… 

Robyn Perry appointed inaugural Fellow at iSchool Center for Technology, Society & Policy

Robyn Perry, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s iSchool, a collaborator in the Aikuma app project (a platform aiming a preserving unwritten languages), and a participant in the Working Group on Mapping Diaspora, was appointed as an inaugural Fellow of the Center for Technology, Society & Policy.

Robyn will be working on a project called Room for Improvement: Can Migrant Support Services Augment Their Impact with Innovative Technological Solutions?

Read more here.  Follow Robyn at @nyborobyn

Three-in-One: #DP Camp Hanukkah Lamps Reunited

This image shows three different copies of a Hanukkah lamp made in Germany in 1947 to honor Jewish survivors and the organization and individuals tending to their needs in the aftermaths of the Second World War.

Each copy of the lamp was based on the same mold, but carries different inscriptions. (See a previous post for more information).


The copy on the right is part of the holdings of The Magnes Collection (UC Berkeley); the one on the left is in the collection of Yad Vashem (Jerusalem); and the one at the top, in print, is featured in a publication of the Jüdisches Museum München (Germany).

The three copies were “reunited” during a meeting of the Mapping Diaspora Working Group that featured presentations by Andrea Sinn and Greg Niemeyer (image by Greg Niemeyer).

Carla Shapreau awarded Palisca Award for the digital edition of looted music manuscript

Carla Shapreau, a faculty member at Berkeley Law whose research involves the Nazi-era plunder of musical cultural property and the restitution of those possessions, a senior fellow in the Institute of European Studies and a curator at the Department of Music, as well as a member of the Working Group on Mapping Diasporas, is the recipient with two co-authors of this year’s Claude V. Palisca Award of the American Musicological Society announced this week.

The award recognizes outstanding scholarly editions or translations in the field of musicology published during the previous year. Shapreau received for the Ferrell-Vogüé Machaut Manuscript, published by the University of Oxford’s Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, reconstructs the long history of the manuscript, a rare work by Guillaume de Machaut, a medieval French poet and scholar.

The manuscript was confiscated by the Nazis from its owner, Georges Wildenstein, in Paris on Oct. 30, 1940, and shipped to Germany. Later, it was taken to the German countryside for safekeeping. In the summer of 1945, the U.S. Army discovered this 14th century musical, literary and artistic work hidden in a Bavarian monastery, and in 1949 it was returned to its true owner.

Read more about this here and here.

The Small Joys of Multidisciplinary Research: Working Group #feedback

The Mapping Diaspora working group continues its activities with monthly meetings involving UC Berkeley faculty and graduate students, developers, and a filmmaker/digital-storyteller.

Each meeting combines focused and multidisciplinary collection research with the critical examination of emerging platforms, bridging the analog and the digital, the on-line and the off-site.

It’s an exciting process of multi-faceted discovery. The feedback from a participant, following the last meeting, could not be more to the point:

Each of these Mapping Diaspora meetings has been a small joy, a reminder of what research looks like with sample sizes of 1 or 2 instead of thousands or millions, when one has enough time to pay attention to the individual and learn its story.