28 Nov 2019 - 29 Nov 2019 All day Junior Parlour, Trinity College, Cambridge CB2 1TQ


A workshop organised by the Andrew W Mellon funded project Religious Diversity and the Secular University.


In this workshop our CRASSH-Mellon project Religious Diversity and the Secular University will approach our broader set of questions by looking at the work of documentary film-makers. In so doing we add two key elements to our explorations: the changing impact of the medium of the visual, on the one hand; and the role of documentary analysis, on the other. The medium of the visual brings a special claim on the real, and hence has played a special role in the politics of self-representation in and against the other. So too, on the other hand, has the claim to truth embodied in the form of the documentary.

The films (and film-work in progress) we will discuss range from the trans-generational memory of Egyptian-Jewish culture and identity in contemporary Israel to the last three elderly nuns in a large but now nearly empty Flemish monastery, and from Jewish, Islamic and Christian traditions of pilgrimage in North Africa to the ghostly presence of a pre-war religiously diverse Poland, to the ‘secular Scripture of America’ that is the poetry of Walt Whitman.

What does the camera see, what can it capture, that academic writing cannot? How do documentaries inform and regulate the practices and comprehension of religious diversity? What questions can the camera ask, and how can it pose them, about varieties of religious diversity and secularism in the modern world? Is documentary film, even about explicitly religious phenomena, necessarily a secularising genre?

Attendance is free, but space is limited and registration is required, and participants are asked to commit to attending both days.

To register, please write to Samantha Peel.
For further questions, please write to Theodor Dunkelgrün.

andrew w mellon foundation logo


‘Religious Diversity and the Secular University’ is funded by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to support a multi-disciplinary examination of the interplay between religion, secularism, and the role of the university, reference #41600622.


Day One, Thursday 28 November 2019

11:00 – 11:30

Registration and Coffee

11:30 – 13:00

Session One

Maurice Elbaz (Casablanca)
The Hilloullah of Rabbi Amram Ben Diwan

Respondent: Caroline Bins (Amsterdam)

13:00 – 14:30


14:30 – 16:00

Session Two

Marlies Smeenge (Amsterdam)
Bernadette Kuiper (Amsterdam)
Traag naar de Hemel (Heaven Awaits)


Respondent: Thomas den Drijver (Amsterdam)

16:00 – 16:30

Tea and Coffee

16:30 – 18:00

Session Three

Yael Almog (Durham)
Europe Will Be Stunned: Visualization of a Jewish Return

Respondent: Erica Segre (Cambridge)

Day Two, Friday 29 November 2019

10:00 – 11:00

Screening of Seret Aravi  (Arabic Movie)
by Eyal Segui-Bizawe

11:00 – 11:30

Tea and Coffee

11:30 – 12:30

Session Four

Eyal Segui-Bizawe (Jerusalem)
Seret Aravi (Arabic Movie)

Respondent: Menna Abukhadra (Cambridge)

12:30 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:30

Screening of Whitman, Alabama
by Jennifer Crandall (San Francisco)


Session Five

Jennifer Crandall (San Francisco)
Whitman, Alabama

Respondent: Theodor Dunkelgrün (Cambridge)

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Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk