Modernity and the Holocaust, 30 Years Later.

To mark the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Zygmunt Bauman’s Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), two events were held in the week 9th-13th September 2019. First a two-day symposium in Leeds organised by the Bauman Institute; and then a special panel at the 17th Polish Sociological Congress in Wrocław organised with our friends at PAN.

These were the latest in a series of ‘legacy’ activities inaugurated by the University of Leeds after Zygmunt Bauman’s death in 2017, which so far has included a Sadler Seminar Series and symposium entitled ‘Thinking in Dark Times’; as well as the development of the Janina and Zygmunt Bauman Archive, which was launched formally on the second day of the Leeds symposium.

The events raised several important questions pertaining to legacy. The first refers to the book’s pertinence and plausibility in informing contemporary work in the social sciences and humanities. Contributions from organisational and management studies, Holocaust studies, intellectual history, disability studies and postcolonial theory all emphasised to varying degrees the ongoing utility and provocativeness of Bauman’s thinking. A second question related to legacy refers to how Bauman’s arguments may or may not extend to events, processes, and disciplinary fields outside of its original purview. Finally, the events considered the questions raised by Bauman’s insistence that we be vigilant regarding the possibilities for barbarism in our midst.

Speakers included: Lydia Bauman (artist and art historian), Jonathon Catlin (Ph.D. candidate in European Intellectual history, Princeton University), Marianne Hirschberg ( Professor of Human Rights and Disability Studies, University of Applied Sciences, Bremen), Tommy Jensen (Professor in Business and Administration, Stockholm University), Jerzy Kociatkiewicz (Senior Lecturer in Management, Sheffield University), Monika Kostera (Professor Ordinaria and Chair in Management, Jagiellonian University), Paweł Michna (PhD Candidate in Anthropology of Literature and Cultural Studies, Jagiellonian University), Jack Palmer (Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, University of Leeds), Griselda Pollock (Professor of Social and Critical Histories of Art, University of Leeds), Larry Ray (Professor of Sociology, University of Kent), Salman Sayyid
(Professor of Rhetoric and Decolonial Thought, University of Leeds), Max Silverman (Professor of French, University of Leeds), Arne Johan Vetlesen (Professor of Philosophy, University of Oslo), Izabela Wagner-Saffray (Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Warsaw), Dominic Williams (Senior Lecturer in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Northumbria University), Michał Zawadzki (Associate Professor in Management and Social Communication, Jagiellonian University).

For a more detailed discussion of the events, please see Jack Palmer’s blogpost on Northern Notes.